2nd path done?

Adam, modified 5 Years ago.

2nd path done?

Posts: 110 Join Date: 3/10/16 Recent Posts
I got 1st path a few weeks ago. The honeymoon finally completely wore off last week, and I starting getting really strong DN, and decided nothing else really matters but enlightenment, so resolved to get 2nd path asap. Yesterday I sat with strong resolve through 3 seperate hour-long sessions of very turbulent DN, just about reaching EQ before having to go to a social engagement, which plunged me back into DN. I went to bed with very strong resolve to practice non-stop as long as it took until I got 2nd path.

Today I woke with good strong intention and practiced solidly on and off the cushion, continually strengthening concentration and resolve. Just now, I finished a 1.5 hour sit with nice strong high-EQ, working hard to apprehend everything, feeling like I was generating lots of Insight, but just a little bit annoyed that the "I" kept being out of reach, feeling like I was on the verge of untangling a very tricky problem or paradox.

But then the timer went off, so I somewhat reluctantly got up - thinking it is wise to alternate non-sitting and sitting, despite wanting to continue for as long as it took, and thinking it would take maybe another few sits with really strong effort to get 2nd path, as long as I keep a strong intention to continue practice until its done.

I then went to have a well-earned pee, and somehow got into a train of thought about the next review, and remembering something in MCTB about how intention is very strong in review, and you should cast your intention into the universe, or something. Then I thought "well that's silly, how can I cast my intention into the universe when I am the universe?" Then I caught that thought, and thought, "wait, I'm the universe?" - then nothing, and I stood there (still peeing) feeling a bit dazed - and realized that that was one of those blip things everyone talks about! It was quite distinct and unusual, and very blip-like, and didn't feel like the sort of thing I'm used to experiencing (when peeing or otherwise).

After that, a familiar feeling of relief, and done-ness, and mirth at the whole chain of events. What makes me think it is done is that the blip was markedly blippy, and the feeling afterward was quite familiar from the last time around. Not sure what to do now so going to have a burrito, and then will re-evaluate. [edit: I don't think that blip was the completion of a vipassana-jhana cycle, because I had just exited the sit in DN jhana].

This isn't a claim, I'm mostly writing this out for self-reflection and to see if this rings true to others. But I would quite like it to be 2nd path. I don't feel particularly enlightened though, just "ok, 2 down, 2 to go".

I guess review this time is just going to be vipassana jhanas continuing, but without actually being in a nana? Also, now I think I know what a fruition looks like, I'll try to gently sit this evening and see if I can observe a cycle all the way to fruition.
Noah, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: 2nd path done?

Posts: 1532 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
So if you had finished Review that recently, my first thought is that it might just be a really, really long Review and you are still in one.  There is a lot of variance with how different people experience Review, and at different points in their journey.
Adam, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: 2nd path done?

Posts: 110 Join Date: 3/10/16 Recent Posts
There was a sense of turning a corner last night, and that sense has gotten steadily increasingly strong this morning. Wide awake after 4 hours intense sleep. Baseline very different... a subtle but almost overwhelming "thisness" in everything. Somehow things seems very prominent, larger than life, hard to ignore - physical sensations, thoughts, the sense of a watcher, the sense of watching. As if the work I was doing in high EQ to observe and integrate everything is now happening automatically (which I guess matches up to what happened after 1st, now that I think about it).

Lots of energy, like a blockage has been removed. Strong aversion to meditation, desire to be physical, tactile. Strong sense of re-learning what it means to exist, a little bit child-like, clumsy. Can strongly feel conscious/intellectual/habitual-thought mind fighting, and inch-by-inch re-aligning, with a new deeper understanding. Strong sense that old thought-patterns need to be abandonded, or are being uprooted in real-time. All of this feels familiar from when I first got SE, but now feels particularly clear and forthright.

When I pause and let things be for a few moments, a pervasive stillness. Suchness - a concept which I had barely grasped before, is now in evidence all around me. It is kind of exhausting taking it all in, but reflexive attempts to stifle it or hold it back are manifestly incorrect. Strong feeling of a need to surrender. Also, an acute awareness of self and self-ing - like a lumbering giant stomping around my reality.

On reflection, a lot of this stuff does sound potentially mind-and-body like. But wow, seems way bigger then that.
Adam, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: 2nd path done?

Posts: 110 Join Date: 3/10/16 Recent Posts
It's been a few days now and things have settled down a bit, so thought I'd update this thread.

I have no idea how to determine if this is 1st path M&B or 2nd path review. On the other hand, that doesn't seem very important - feel like I have a deepened appreciation for what needs to be done, and moreover how to do it. I actually feel like just abandoning models from here on out (which would make a nice change!) - it seems like enlightenment is doing itself now, so long as I show up and pay attention. I'm mostly writing this out because its fun and I don't have anyone else to share it with.

The past few days continued to be quite overwhelming, as if all signals (sight/sound/thought etc.) had been suddenly hugely amplified. But now feel that I'm starting to settle into it, and beginning to get the hang of practicing moment-to-moment surrender/integration in daily life (as much as mindfulness allows) as a way to deal with this new awareness. I have a fun new ability which I can only describe as "inclining toward emptiness", serves to really chill me out whenever I catch myself having forgetten to be chilled. My baseline awareness is extremely strong, broad and inclusive compared to the few weeks since SE, particularly when I take a moment to relax and allow it.

I can observe vipassana jhanas fairly easily in normal life. For some reason remain quite disinclined to sit for meditation (even the gentlest noting) - but very inclined to "meditate" in the course of normal life, even whilst e.g. having conversations. So I haven't wanted to explore repeat fruitions or attempt jhanas yet - perhaps that would be helpful as a diagnostic tool?

There is a real feeling that this is a new chapter, and it also feels very reminiscent of 1st path and the days after that (although much more peaceful and grounded). On the other hand similarities to MCTB M&B description - reality seems "a bit more brilliant" (a lot more actually), I do feel "more alive". But I do not feel more "connected to the world", and I'm not sure about feeling of "unity or universal consciousness" - if anything there is a strong feeling of disjointedness, and a need to find unity.

So my current feeling is 85% chance of 2nd path, though I'm starting to feel the maps are maybe more of a hinderence than a help for me at this stage - I feel I know what has to be done and how to do it, and that this will keep me occupied for a good while.
Adam, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: 2nd path done?

Posts: 110 Join Date: 3/10/16 Recent Posts
So if you had finished Review that recently, my first thought is that it might just be a really, really long Review and you are still in one.  There is a lot of variance with how different people experience Review, and at different points in their journey.

Oh woops - in the excitement I had somehow misread your comment thinking you were suggesting I had gone to Mind & Body, not was still in 1st path review! Now I'm really confused if I am still reviewing 1st path or am now reviewing 2nd path! Is it possible for review to have a marked change in nature/baseline, particularly after 5 weeks?
neko, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: 2nd path done?

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts

Then I caught that thought, and thought, "wait, I'm the universe?" - then nothing, and I stood there (still peeing) feeling a bit dazed - and realized that that was one of those blip things everyone talks about!

I cannot be the only one wondering, so I can't resist asking, did it spill out? emoticon
Adam, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: 2nd path done?

Posts: 110 Join Date: 3/10/16 Recent Posts
I'm pleased to report, there was minimal collateral damage emoticon
Adam, modified 5 Years ago.

3 down 1 to go?

Posts: 110 Join Date: 3/10/16 Recent Posts
Think I got another path.

I've had the great fortune to be able to do a pseudo-retreat since what I think was 2nd path (i.e. the beginning of this thread). Not exactly a retreat, but I've been mostly alone working more or less non-stop, with strong belief that I have 2nd, and that 3rd is not far away. I'm not completely confident in any of this, but this is how it seems to me. Should add that before what I think was 2nd path, I observed the whole cycle of insight quite clearly, to my satisfaction. What follows is a description of what happened since my last message:


Meditation consisted of sitting and just willing myself to be present. Main effort in remembering to incline toward peace/emptiness? Rather than having to work hard to go looking for sensations, now they are just there, and my job was to just allow them to present themselves. Strong sense of need to integrate/unify the field of sensation. But a lot of confusion. Completely lost touch with nanas and vipasanna jhanas, stuff just seemed to happen all over the place. But felt very different to before the "2nd path" moment.

Equanimity always just sort of there. Meditation sessions involve around 20-30 mins of inclining toward peace, then everything is just sort of there. Then 20-30 mins of fighting the urge to just indulge in the peace or doze off, and instead investigate things or unify things. Also new fascination with the observer. Thoughts and feelings don't feel very self-y anymore when paying attention, not too sure about the observer though. Something funky going on, but not sure what.

New path of insight

At some point, things started to shift, and I started needing a little more active investigation in meditation. Feelings of paradox, confusion, being lost, EQ and DN seem to overlap, feeling of being close to something new. Found this classic message from Daniel about getting to 3rd, which just seemed so right, resonated so enormously. Particularly the following passages:
"you have to sneak up on them so gently that they don't notice it and can be caught unawares, except that sneaking process is what you are trying to sneak up on."
"really paying attention in that slightly violating, slightly personally-taboo way... something creepy about it, as it violates the center in a more full-time way than the earlier paths do... that letting go through-to-the-bone creepiness and can see the good side in that, the width, the spaciousness, the naturalness, the directness, the completeness, the fullness, the now-ness of it, the better you will do."
So despite the confusion and a feeling of uncomfortableness, felt very confident I was on the right track, and suddenly everything got seriously intense and I was sure I was near to getting 3rd path... then somehow it slipped away... and I was greeted by an unholy Dark Night. Suddenly I was able to make sense of the previous days - they now made a lot of sense as going through the first 3 nanas, and I had mistaked A&P for EQ.

This DN experience hit me with incredible force and intensity like no other before. Fear like I was an animal being hunted. Finally made it through that into Misery like I had been dipped into molten sadness. I couldn't believe how thoroughly miserable I felt, like my flesh and bones were made of sadness. Fortunately I managed to sleep it off. That was yesterday.


Awoke early today, totally resolved to get through this DN with minimal fuss, sticking to sensations with no messing about. Not making the same mistakes I had before. To my surprise, this turned out to be no problem. I quickly rose through all the DN nanas, being able to observe each one and the shifts between with very good clarity. Proceed to rise through EQ quite comfortably, and actually felt like I got close to path just before my sit-alarm went off. It seemed quite obvious that sensations of self, observer, and noting were happening on their own, that the 'centre' was an illusion which would soon fall away, and I had thought just a little more time would 'tip the balance' to solidifying into 3rd path any minute.

So I confidently began the next sit, which was a disaster. As were the next two after that. Floundered around a lot, getting excited, very frustrated, trying way too hard in spite of myself, thinking too much, mistaking thought for reality, failing to notice I was solidifying things.

Decided to try a different tack for my next sit. Gathered energy and determination, and resolved to chill out and stay with bare sensation. Started by hanging out in Reobservation - which was particularly interesting for a change, because I could clearly see the shifting sands of the DN nanas, which was actually quite fun!

Then rose gently and steadily to nice high EQ by sticking strongly to my resolutions to chill out and investigate sensations one by one as they arose. Not a lot of actual effort, just pure exertion of will. Eventually able to observe the observer with little effort, watching its subtle shifts, seeing the 3C's in the observer fairly easily. After a bit of that, started to be able to consistently notice the process of noticing the observer, and thinking "I bet if I gently investigate the very noticing itself, that should do the trick" - not long after there was a small blip.

This was much smaller than the blip for 2nd path, which was huge. This initially caused me to dismiss it and resume investigation. But then, symptoms arose which were very similar to after attaining the previous two paths, only this time more understated and brief; almost immediate feeling of warmth, spontenous grin, mirth, gratitude, relief, feeling of doneness, and a mild feeling of post-orgasmic bliss/lethargy. And like the other 2 times, very hungry now! Guess perhaps when I am meditating a lot have a habit of not eating enough.

Now, the great swelling of energy and motivation I had the past few days has evaporated. I just tried to sit to see what happens - mind feels clear, but totally unenergised. Can languidly watch sensations, and turn the inner eye toward to observer, but the observer has no solidity and feels just kinda irrelevant and boring.

It is probably too early to write this here. I don't know what all of the above means. Maybe that was actually 2nd, maybe it was a near-miss on 3rd. Time will tell, but progress is happening, I'm pretty happy about it, and thats all that really matters. It probably seems unlikely I could go from SE to 3rd in 2 months, but most of this time I have been effectively doing a solo retreat, so it is at least plausible.

I'd like to thank Daniel and everyone on this forum for making it the incredible treasure it is. I've done a lot of reading the last couple of weeks, and can't imagine where I would be without DhO, and of course MCTB. Probably still stuck in the first Dark Night.

[various edits for clarity]
Dream Walker, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: 3 down 1 to go?

Posts: 1335 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Here is something to contemplate when deciding whether your in third path area...
RE: third path please help

Daniel M. Ingram:
If you are in third path territory, and without implying anything about that: cycles and cycles and cycles, big cycles, little cycles, interrupted cycles, cycles where you push forward, where you seem to retreat, cycles that lead nowhere, cycles that really shift things big-time, and more cycles.

Fuzzy stuff where you want jhana does ring very strongly Dark Night, but which one at that point can be nearly impossible to figure out and doesn't matter: if you are an anagami: either you saw things are empty, luminous, not you, not self, not other, natural, panoramic, clear, centerless, or you did not. That's the only game in town, really, and that's the challenge to the practicing anagami. Uncovering every single subtle and more subtle and more subtle and closer and more intimate and more you and more near and more vulnerable and more hidden layer of stuff that seems to be pretending to be subject and seeing it how it is: that's the job of the practicing anagami. It can be a long, complex, strange road with many plateaus and valleys along the way. Settling into and syncing with this moment, or better yet realizing it is already synced, regardless of how it presents or any of our ideals for it: that is the work of the practicing anagami.

Good luck wherever you are.
Adam, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: 3 down 1 to go?

Posts: 110 Join Date: 3/10/16 Recent Posts
Thanks Dream Walker, I will come back to check my experience against your quoted section later. All I can say so far is that there has certainly been another clear baseline shift, which is the third so far, and it is by far the most impressive.
shargrol, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: 2nd path done?

Posts: 1613 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Thanks for documenting this Adam. Regardless of what it is, it's a great example of great practice. Investigating, relaxing, balancing energy and effort, studying written information, questioning, practicing, experimenting, and ultimately sharing. Well done! Stay gently curious and gently balanced and keep doing what you are doing!
Adam, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: 2nd path done?

Posts: 110 Join Date: 3/10/16 Recent Posts
Thanks for the encouragement shargol, though don't think I could stop now if I wanted to!

To continue the documentation:


The few days after what I describe as "third path" above were similar to my other two "path" experiences - the pattern of not meditating and feeling strong need to integrate new Insight. Reality again very interesting and profound, considerably more so than the previous two times.

A jarring back-and-forth as sense of solidity and seperateness of observer fades and returns, varying with tiredness, mood, relaxedness etc. Observer now sort-of 'known' to be illusion, when it returns or solidifies has a sort of alien, uncomfortable quality. Feeling of the subconcious adjusting to not needing to create the observer, like mental-muscles which now serve no purpose learning to stop flexing, but occasionally flexing through habit. Frequent need to just rest and let mind sort itself out.

General feeling of wellness, peace, contentedness. Often feeling that things are just what they are, and that is fine, and that it wouldn't make sense to want them to be otherwise - impulses to drink beer or eat junk food are often effortlessly seen as they arise to be nonsensical. Everything is rich in freshness and impermanence like when you go on holiday somewhere new and know you are leaving soon. Panoramic and spacious quality, vividness to sound and vision, kind of like being in some super-advanced virtual reality. Naturally find qualities in light and sound that never really saw before, or don't remember feeling since childhood. Sense of agency now becomes interesting, the observer now boring.

Honeymoon over

Over next few days, increasing feeling of uncomfortableness with the 'center'. Occasionally re-enter 'centreless' state, but mostly center exists, and a lot of the time nagging persistent feeling of suffering that center exists. It knows it isn't real, but doesn't know how to collapse itself.

Sometimes slip into centerlessness somehow, but not sure how, and cannot reliably repeat, which is frustrating. The centerless feeling seems like the most right, natural thing in the world, but has to be maintained somehow with subtle application of energy.

At the other extreme, the center feels like a cartoon cat with claws digging into doorframe, resisting going to the vet, with owner pushing and pulling to try to dislodge it. Except I am both owner and cat, but I am not consciously clinging or trying to dislodge, but feel an internal battle going on.

Massively reduced interest in vices continues, and deepens. Find myself switching on the tv out of habit, then turning it off again a few minutes later. Newfound appreciation for silence and sitting quietly. Activities and even thought-patterns intended to mask suffering are frequently seen through, and in fact can be seen to increase suffering. Often spontaneously see 3Cs in thoughts, instincts, habits. But equally often find myself engaging in those habits and patterns and increasing suffering, and can't stop it. Often feel completely adrift, absolutely nothing to hold onto, no ground, no centre, no reference point, nothing to cling to, and even trying to cling makes it worse. "No refuge" has become the predominant feeling, almost a mantra even.

Things are serious now, this feels like the final showdown, like getting to the end boss (except the end boss in this case is a delusion that there is a boss to fight... or something...). But the good news is there is now a strong belief that there is an end, that it is possible.

This comment from Daniel seems like the way forward,

This field is it, totally, completely, so committing to being totally and very clearly present to this field here and now, all the way through, and abandoning the sense of progress in favor of the sense of immediacy, not in the sense of not working to be present to the immediacy, but in terms of starting to habitually perceive everything that has to do with past and future, with progress and stages, with practice and result, with self and other, and all of that as part of this field, right here, no exceptions.

It is like taking the last stand, the total stand, the complete stand, and in that synchronizing with the thing, finally, utterly, the ultimate settling in, the resolving nothing but this.

It is committing to no way out, Pema Chodron's The Wisdom of No Escape, the Great Taking the One Seat.

So my cutting edge and goal now is to see sensations arise and pass, see and accept them, see the 3Cs, as much as possible, all the time, everywhere, in everything. In peak experiences now can see that everything is sensations which arise and pass, including sense of observer, sense of noting, sense of intending, sense of percieving, sense of doing, sense of beliving, sense of having an attitude, sense of there being a context, sense of reality, sense of agency, sense of self, sense of doer... etc. And allowing all of those sensations to just arise and pass is wonderful.

Meditation now consists of Just Sitting, whenever in the mood. Though can't really call it meditation, and can't really distinguish meditation from non-meditation.

Keep coming back to something I heard Shinzen say in a video, something like being enlightened is like falling through space at a hundred miles an hour, and you just accept that. This suddenly makes an awful lot of sense, and I can't wait.
Adam, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: 2nd path done?

Posts: 110 Join Date: 3/10/16 Recent Posts
Thought I'd document what came next, for posterity, and potential map-making (though I'm basically given up with maps now, I can see the end and still feel confident I know how to proceed so maps seem at best a fun distraction for where I am now).

The feeling of discomfort with the "center" rose to a kind of creshendo a couple of days after the previous post, I couldn't stop thinking about it, or let it go. I became obsessed with the notion that all I needed to do was drop it, or drop trying to drop it or somesuch thing, and went to bed. When I woke up the next day very quickly I noticed something was different. The sense of watching through the eyes had kind of gone, and there was a gentle feeling of lightness and centerlessness. This wasn't new, as I'd experienced it intermittently as detailed above, but now it was fixed and required no effort.

On leaving the house I realise that "my eyes are unlocked", by which I mean there is just this pure seeing, how I imagine perhaps great painters see. Kind of hyper-real, dreamlike, magical. My ears had been similarly unlocked for a while, and now the two are unlocked together it is quite glorious. At first I just couldn't stop looking, and after a few hours of this (and A&P nana) it got quite overwhelming and I got a strong headache, and meanwhile life finally caught up with me. Faces are particularly intersting now.

I decided to put all this stuff aside and fully re-engage with the world, since I am starting a new job soon. And also as an experiment to see what happens when I just stop working on vipassana altogether, in case maybe I'd hypnotised myself somewhat. So for the past week I haven't meditated or made any real effort to vipassana, other than letting it happen, and meanwhile been busy with all kinds of life stuff.

The baseline shift seems to have endured - the centrelessness and "unlocked" vision have persisted and require no effort. My main most pressing concern now is the habit of identifying with thoughts, which seems very tricky - easy to see through with mindfulness, but hard to stop the pattern. I've been trying to tackle this with very gentle investigation in day-to-day life, but think a little more effort may be needed.

Interestingly normality was resumed quite easily, and seems much like before this three months of crazy advancement. Only with an awful lot less agitation, and a lot of extra "space" and "time" in and around everything. I'm still suffering and making the same mistakes as ever. Though to a quite considerably smaller degree. Also, pleasingly, I seem to have lost the desire to drink alcohol (which I had been known to over-indulge in), but we'll see if that persists. For some reason, I realy think it will this time. In a way things seem more normal in a really good way. Just a lot of nasty jagged edges have been smoothed over perhaps. Not really sure, still evaluating the changes. They are however undoubtedly and unreservedly a massive improvement.

Meanwhile I'm getting some small previews of what the next stage may be like - spontaneously thinking about "wu wei" sometimes, and the idea of sort of "floating in reality". I'm looking forward to getting better at it.
T DC, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: 2nd path done?

Posts: 393 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
To me it seems like the original attainment you posted about could have been 3rd path.  I definately associate 3rd path with an insight that comes as a seemingly logical conclusion to a train of thought.  This would also explain your latter experiences of a 2nd blip, or path, since after 3rd path we complete new cycles with some regularity.

I think the 2nd path moment is very undefined in experience and it could be easy to miss it.  As well I didn't feel it to have a major effect on meditation such as a strong review cycle like after 1st path.  From what you have described, your experience sounds more like 3rd path. 

A major after effect of 3rd path in my experience was increased confidence regarding oneself and the path.  Another was increased concentration abilities, specifically access to the latter 4 jhanas.  Does that resonate in your experience?

Adam, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: 2nd path done?

Posts: 110 Join Date: 3/10/16 Recent Posts
Thanks T DC, that does make sense and sounds quite reasonable, though I've now pretty much abandoned middle-path modelling - I read a lot of threads on here and found everyone disagrees with each other so much (or at least everyone sees them differently)! Decided it wouldn't do me much good to spend time worrying about it - I'd rather spend that time investigating sensations emoticon! Although I do wish I'd kept a better practice log after SE, can't think where 2nd path would fit between SE and what I called "second path", and also I think more and better data can be very useful to improve maps and help future yogis.

My confidence was very high after what I describe as second path, I had great faith in the path and my ability to follow it, and since the most recent blip, that confidence has become seemingly unshakable.

My concentration abilities have been consistently extremely good since "second path", in that I often don't need to exert any effort to do vipassana concentration - the effort seems more to do with attitude or intention or something like that. Actually the past week or so sometimes find it hard to concentrate on things other than investigating sensations, e.g. while reading or driving. Actually, thinking about it now, a significant amount of the suffering I've experienced in the past couple of weeks feels like it may actually have been caused by subconscious resistence to automatic vipassana! [note to self: very interesting, must explore this, feels like it may be very fruitful]

Perhaps controversially, I haven't gotten jhanas, and have made almost no attempt at jhanas. I dabbled a bit after SE in willing myself into jhana, but since I have never learnt the technique, I wasn't able to make it stick and quickly fell out and just did noting instead. Though I've often felt 'close' to jhana whilst doing vipassana - could feel that warm glow beginning to envelop me, and actually a number of times have had to consciously guide myself away from it. Since the end of SE review, I just haven't been interested - jhanas seem like a distraction from insight and doesn't seem to have much value while I am progressing in vipassana.