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ATTENTION!: It appears that our server has been hacked through this version of Liferay, meaning it is no longer secure, and so expect instability as we deal with this and attempt to upgrade to Liferay 7, which we failed to be able to do last year the last time the team attempted it, but we have no choice at this point, so bear with us as we try again. Save any long posts in a text file before posting them. You can follow me on Twitter at @danielmingram for updates if the site is down. Apologies for any complexity this causes. We will work as fast as we can. We have backups of the database, so hopefully nothing will be lost. Thanks to all helping with this complex process.

 

 

 

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Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/10/16 3:20 AM
Brief historical context: accidentally entered the Dark Night after practicing from Mindfulness in Plain English around 6 years ago, a few days after getting access concentration and 1st jhana. After lots of Googling found DhO and the maps, and was suddenly able to explain what had happened to me. Had a near-miss with Stream Entry about a year after that, and have been struggling ever since.

The last two of weeks I've been on holiday, and doing lots of meditation. I had an inkling I might be able to Get It Done this time, and gradually ramped up the amount of meditation every day. 2 days ago I spent most of the day in equanimity, doing maybe 5 hours of meditation in total. At the end of the day I had very solid high equanimity, but was sure I was missing something. Read some threads on here, then went to bed excited and resolved to work hard the next day.

Then yesterday I woke up after 5 hours sleep and had several sessions of meditation, where I was in medium-high EQ almost the whole time. Then I read something on here about how I needed faith that it could be done by inclusively investigating sensations and seeking what was missing, which felt exactly right. In the next meditation I resolved to do this, and after an hour or so something happened. I was in very strong, inclusive concentration, (I think experiencing formations, but I'm not sure), and looking everywhere for what I was missing. Then I noticed that there was nothing missing, and that there was nothing looking for the nothing that was missing, and found that very funny. Then I noticed that nothing was watching nothing looking for nothing, and laughed for a good few minutes.

Then my concentration sort of ebbed away. There was no "blip" that I remember, no "wow", nothing earth-shaking. But a strong sense of accomplishment and and afterglow of bliss and relief. It was only then that it occured to me that maybe that was it. There was also a strong lingering sense of an absense of self after the meditation. I tried getting into jhana (have been unable to do it since falling into DN 6 years ago), but my mind didn't seem inclinded toward it, so I gave up.

I woke up early again this morning, and for a change my meditation wasn't very good. Instead of jumping into EQ, it felt like I was starting all over again. My mind was very disinclined to work hard to concentrate, but seemed to focus well enough without much effort. So I'm guessing this is review. And now here I am. I estimate the probability of this being SE at 60%, which has been gradually rising from my estimate of 10% when it first occured to me that that might have been it.

Would appreciate any and all thoughts on if that was it, and what I should do now. If that wasn't it, I want to keep pushing hard to get it since I felt very close. If that was it, I don't want to push if my mind is telling me not to.

Thanks, peace and metta.

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/10/16 5:29 AM as a reply to Adam.
congratulations!.if that was "it".   :-)

this corresponds to my personal experiences.  i am not a "blipper".

keep checking in on the jhana aquisition.  see whether you notice whether focusing on the pleasant feelings become steadier and more stable.  you don't need to pay so much attention to the difference between different jhanas at the beginning.

tom

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/11/16 11:26 AM as a reply to Adam.
Follow up...

For the rest of the day felt like I was on a come-down, or like I'd run a marathon. Waves of extreme exhaustion/lethargy, moments of feeling brilliant, attention mostly very poor. Sudden desire to drink and smoke, despite having done neither for weeks, and thinking I'd actually lost all interest in them! Just sort of gave up on the day and watched TV/played on internet and ate loads of food, went to bed feeling exhausted and had intense dreams.

Then today, morning meditation felt like just sort of had to let it happen. Went through a cycle from DN until high EQ but no fruition. Rest of morning/early afternoon was intense dark night stuff, confusion, stress etc - pretty much given up hope that I'd actually gotten SE, reduced probability back down to 10%.

Then afternoon meditation was fascinating. Entered with strong Fear and just sort of examined it for a bit, then thought something like "wish I could just be in EQ", and to my surprise immediately jumped into strong medium EQ! From there I was able to play around with entering DN states with varying degrees of success. Tried to enter 1st samatha jhana and failed, but unusually felt like I *could* but my mind didn't want me to go there (hard to explain). Tried to bring up fruitions but couldn't manage it. But feel like can enter high EQ pretty much at will in meditation and stay there with no effort.

After that meditation, very review-like feelings - like just need to be gentle and allow this mind-body stuff to happen, this change to be adapted to. Like my job now is to just carefully, calmly follow my instincts and not try to push anything too hard, to intuitively explore without too much doing, and without too much surrender. Interestingly there appears to be a fundamental lack of me-ness, just kinda missing - catch myself performing habitual me-thought-activites, which then don't seem to make sense.

So I've now upgraded the probability of SE to 90%. This is all new and fascinating territory (and doesn't match what I thought post-SE would be like at all), and doesn't match my previous near-misses. Though I'm still not convinced, and going to wait a year (as is tradition) before calling it one way or another.

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/11/16 12:35 PM as a reply to Adam.
Another question to ask is, "Why is it important for me to have a label for this experience?" I spent a lot of time wondering if I was a stream enterer after certain points along the way. At the end of it, I found it was more helpful to let that 'worry' go and get back to the practice. Asking the question was very helpful though.

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/11/16 2:15 PM as a reply to Small Steps.
My main reason for being eager to figure it out is because I have a rare opportunity at the moment for prolonged intensive practice, and I want to use as it as best I can. If I don't have it I'll go back to just noting as hard as possible 6 hours a day, but I don't want to do the wrong thing if I do have it.

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/11/16 4:12 PM as a reply to Adam.
Were I you, I would just keep practicing intensively as it sounds like the opportunity is there. As far as "doing the wrong thing" goes, there's value there too. You'll figure it out, and then learn from the mistakes. After all, stream enterers are said to be aparapaccaya, "not dependent or relying on others." I don't think it happens through magic, but through a lot of hard practice, doing the wrong things as well as the right ones emoticon

"There are not one hundred or five hundred, but many more men and women lay followers who respond to my teachings, follow my advice, have gone beyond doubt, become free of perplexity, gained intrepidity, and become independent of others in my teaching" (MN 73)

edit: added some snark ;)

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/11/16 6:49 PM as a reply to Adam.
Adam:
Follow up...

For the rest of the day felt like I was on a come-down, or like I'd run a marathon. Waves of extreme exhaustion/lethargy, moments of feeling brilliant, attention mostly very poor. Sudden desire to drink and smoke, despite having done neither for weeks, and thinking I'd actually lost all interest in them! Just sort of gave up on the day and watched TV/played on internet and ate loads of food, went to bed feeling exhausted and had intense dreams.

Then today, morning meditation felt like just sort of had to let it happen. Went through a cycle from DN until high EQ but no fruition. Rest of morning/early afternoon was intense dark night stuff, confusion, stress etc - pretty much given up hope that I'd actually gotten SE, reduced probability back down to 10%.

Then afternoon meditation was fascinating. Entered with strong Fear and just sort of examined it for a bit, then thought something like "wish I could just be in EQ", and to my surprise immediately jumped into strong medium EQ! From there I was able to play around with entering DN states with varying degrees of success. Tried to enter 1st samatha jhana and failed, but unusually felt like I *could* but my mind didn't want me to go there (hard to explain). Tried to bring up fruitions but couldn't manage it. But feel like can enter high EQ pretty much at will in meditation and stay there with no effort.

After that meditation, very review-like feelings - like just need to be gentle and allow this mind-body stuff to happen, this change to be adapted to. Like my job now is to just carefully, calmly follow my instincts and not try to push anything too hard, to intuitively explore without too much doing, and without too much surrender. Interestingly there appears to be a fundamental lack of me-ness, just kinda missing - catch myself performing habitual me-thought-activites, which then don't seem to make sense.

So I've now upgraded the probability of SE to 90%. This is all new and fascinating territory (and doesn't match what I thought post-SE would be like at all), and doesn't match my previous near-misses. Though I'm still not convinced, and going to wait a year (as is tradition) before calling it one way or another.
It sounds like you went from EQ to A&P....the run down tired feeling -dissolusion. The next morning starts with fear and the rest of the DN.

I would continue to pour it on until a fruition confirms it if you have the time to do so.
Its kinda hard to miss when it happens, though wierd and not what you expected, there is definately something different....especially during the honeymoon phase.
The review should have a different feeling to the Nanas then before. It should just happen really easy, kinda on its own.

I know a few people who actually got 1st path and poured it on and went for second....one person got second like 4 days later, so thats an option.
As for waiting a year to figue it out, thats crappy advice. Figure it out now while its fresh. Whether you wait a year before telling everyone, feel free to do whatever you feel.
(I personally think its a silly tradition, if it is one. I'd set a goal to have another path before another year.)
Best wishes and good luck
~D

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/12/16 2:40 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:


It sounds like you went from EQ to A&P....the run down tired feeling -dissolusion. The next morning starts with fear and the rest of the DN.

I would continue to pour it on until a fruition confirms it if you have the time to do so.
Its kinda hard to miss when it happens, though wierd and not what you expected, there is definately something different....especially during the honeymoon phase.
The review should have a different feeling to the Nanas then before. It should just happen really easy, kinda on its own.

I know a few people who actually got 1st path and poured it on and went for second....one person got second like 4 days later, so thats an option.
As for waiting a year to figue it out, thats crappy advice. Figure it out now while its fresh. Whether you wait a year before telling everyone, feel free to do whatever you feel.
(I personally think its a silly tradition, if it is one. I'd set a goal to have another path before another year.)
Best wishes and good luck
~D

Ah, I'd forgotten that review includes A&P and Dissolution - that actually makes perfect sense now! I really want to figure this fruition stuff out so intend to keep at it. The Nanas do definitely have a different feel to before - there is a sort of extra equanimity, and a knowing that they are temporary and not to be identified with -  even equanimity itself.

I was wondering if I could go for 2nd path. I feel like I finally have a good understanding of how to the nanas work, and how to practice noting well, and a lot of momentum. If I do decide I have 1st path and want to go for second, any advice? Is the process mostly similar?

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/12/16 2:45 AM as a reply to Small Steps.
Small Steps:
Were I you, I would just keep practicing intensively as it sounds like the opportunity is there. As far as "doing the wrong thing" goes, there's value there too. You'll figure it out, and then learn from the mistakes. After all, stream enterers are said to be aparapaccaya, "not dependent or relying on others." I don't think it happens through magic, but through a lot of hard practice, doing the wrong things as well as the right ones emoticon

"There are not one hundred or five hundred, but many more men and women lay followers who respond to my teachings, follow my advice, have gone beyond doubt, become free of perplexity, gained intrepidity, and become independent of others in my teaching" (MN 73)

edit: added some snark ;)
Oh I do like the sound of being independent of others! And also of continuing hard practice and seeing what else I can discover! Guess I can't go too far wrong with continuting practice if I do it with the right attitude.

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/12/16 6:56 AM as a reply to Adam.
Sounds like you have some time still to do some extended practice?

If so, I would recommend a very simple session where you are mindful of the sensations of breathing in your nose, throat, chest, or belly (whatever feels most natural) and emphasize the body breathing itself (which it does automatically). Is your awareness both loose and clear enough that you can watch your body breathe?

If so, can you hold both the breathing and the emotional tone of your mind in awareness at the same time? Sometimes emotions/feelings might feel more in front with breathing sensations in the background, sometimes it might be the otherway. Are you able to have a loose, clear, and wide enough awareness to do that?

If so, keep doing that and watch how the breathing sensations and the emotional/feeling of mind changes. Can you notice the changing and somewhat unpredictible nature of the changes? Can you notice how the mind expands and contractions around positive and negative sensations? Can you notice how it does this on it's own?

Is there a progression of jhana-like feelings (or even strong jhanas)? Can you feel the positive feedback you get from holding your mind on breathing sensations (first jhana), can you feel the warm and full feeling like basking in the sun (second jhana), can you feel how dark night stages have a cool blissy feeling like the sensations of fear but without the panic (third jhana), can you get that happy child in a happy home feeling of contentment and spaciousness (fourth jhana)? Can you experience this naturally without a need to manipulate your experience? 

It's worth taking the time to really soak in jhana-like feelings. This is what helps move a yogi to SE/fruition.

Can you simply rest and stay curious when not much else is happening? Can you actually rest in equanimity without needing to make something happen?

If things get heady, giddy, wierd, bizzare, can you continue to rest and just marvel at the mind looking at the mind?

Are you in a hurry to experience something? Can you look at that urge and see it as an urge? Can you not beat yourself up about having urges and desires, but instead continue to rest in the experience and marvel at the mind looking at the mind?


All of these things are good ways to check in with the state of your practice and kind of represent a guided tour through the nanas and the path to SE/fruition.

Remember SE/fruition just happens, so effort is needed at times to stay on retreat and keep doing simple practices (which seem boring to the discursive mind), but effort is not needed to make experience happen and effort is not needed to be aware. Awareness and experience happen effortlessly... and that can be paradoxically both a key method and ultimate insight in meditation practice.

Best wishes and good luck! 

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/12/16 9:41 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Shargrol, your posts are very helpful!

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/18/16 6:13 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Very useful Shargol!

I've played around with gentle observation in meditation since your post (although haven't been meditating all that much, prefering to explore normal life with my new mind). Over several meditation sessions I've become able to watch these jhana-feelings quite closely, observe them develop and spontaneously shift from one to another. Indeed all I need to do is watch and they present themselves. In last night's meditation two full cycles of jhana-stages happened in about 40 minutes, with each stage being very clear. Still haven't been able to spot fruitions themselves though!

And now this morning the cycle has stopped, no more jhana-feelings, and there is no more exciting stuff going on, just regular thoughts and feelings! I'm guessing this means review has come to an end, and I'm in Mind and Body of 2nd path? That would seem to make sense.

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/18/16 7:43 AM as a reply to Adam.
It's very hard to definitively say where you are, but very clear and effortless jhanas is very suggestive of stream entry. (Congratulations on your practice, either way!) I've noticed that clear fruitions post SE vary for people, some people have clear ones, others do not. On versus off-retreat matters, so does the practioner. Usually by 2nd or 3rd path, they become clear on and off cushion to most people, but still not for everyone.

Review is very variable, too. Some people review for weeks and months, some just days, some don't even notice it much at all.

The main thing for you is to do it all over again. With greater access to jhanas, really relax and cultivate them as you practice. More subtle suffering and contraction should become more obvious, so work on accepting/releasing resistances along the way. Meanwhile the nanas will be more confusing because of the overlay of jhana. Basically 2nd path is like first, but more confusing because of increased sensitivity and jhanas.

Even if you are still SE, the instructions above apply. So no need to worry. Just keep on doing what you've been doing.

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/27/16 7:58 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Huge thanks to everyone who responded, and to the community at large for creating such an incredible resource. Thought I'd update this thread in case it is helpful to anyone else.

I'm pretty confident now that I'm 1st path. Things have settled down a lot, and my baseline is markedly different to before. Meditation is essentially my default mode now.  Never did get jhanas or fruitions, but been practicing insight pretty solidly and feel like I'm consistently advancing.

Although it is trickier to figure out exactly where I nana-wise, it doesn't seem to matter all that much either. Feel like I can sometimes spot vipassana jhanas, but it is confusing now they are overlaid with nanas. Although think I've been able to diagnose nanas fairly successfully by referencing MCTB. Amusingly, I believe I went through A&P while in a job interview (which went very well emoticon - until I fell into dissolution :/).

Now think I'm in DN/EQ territory - it is much like last time around, although (mostly) much less of a big deal, and there is a consistent strong sense that I'm missing something important. Equanimity is pretty boring and unsatisfying, and doesn't feel nearly so inherently valuable as it did last time around.

Feel like I may get 2nd path fairly soon if I can keep practicing the way I am. But I'm not at all hung-up about it, or the maps, like I was before 1st path - stuff is clearly happening, and it doesn't really matter exactly what it is or where it is leading. But there is clearly a lot of work still to be done! And finally all this talk about emptiness is starting to make sense!

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
3/28/16 2:19 AM as a reply to Adam.
Adam:
Feel like I may get 2nd path fairly soon if I can keep practicing the way I am. But I'm not at all hung-up about it,
Cool, keep your expectations in check. I ran up the nanas to EQ in 2 weeks then spent like 8 months there, your milage may vary. Its easy to get to feeling stuck when you have expectations. It is what it is...
Good Luck,
~D

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
4/7/16 8:03 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
To continue this practise log in case I can provide useful pointers to others navigating this very strange and confusing territory, like the terribly suffering dark-night-yogi lurker I was before...

I'm now certain I've attained 1st path. It is everything I'd hoped and more, and yet almost nothing at all.

It is very frustrating that I can't point at anything or say anything to tell or show my friends and family. Though some friends I hadn't seen for a while remarked that I seem much more relaxed and healthy, which is pleasing (I was a huge ball of DN pain before). So far I have almost nothing useful I can find to say to even my closest dharma-friend, except "get it done - its worth the sacrifice".

To Dark Night lurkers like I was: it is possible, it is real. It is *a lot of hard work* - and it is so very worth it. It won't solve your problems - they'll still be there afterward. But something has changed, the problems no longer seem insurmountable, and never will again. I now have a toe-hold, a vantage point - there is clearly much more work to do, but *I can see that it is doable*.

It now seems inevitable that I will continue working until MCTB 4th path - I couldn't stop the progress if I wanted to, nothing else is hardly worth doing. It is like an airport landing strip with bright flashing lights on either side beckoning me, and I cannot wait to land.

For the first time in my life, I am (in a way) unafraid. All of the old fears remain - but are now strangely hollow. So what if I don't get the things I want? So what if I can't have what I imagine? So what if people don't see what I want them to see?

My only real remaining fear is that after MCTB 4th path, there is still fear.

RE: Was that Stream Entry?
Answer
4/7/16 10:36 PM as a reply to Adam.
Adam:

My only real remaining fear is that after MCTB 4th path, there is still fear.


I don't think you need to be afraid.  There really was fear for me, after what my previous teacher called 'technical 4th path.'  But now I have come to find joy in the possibility that spiritual development might be an endlessly vertical ladder, or at least a ceiling so high that many will not almost no humans will find Buddhahood before they die.  Either way, I believe it to be good news that continuous improvement is possible.  

EDITED