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A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat

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A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat
Answer
12/26/16 3:38 AM
Hi

I've been practising a decade but have not done a retreat in quite a few years. I do not think I have ever crossed the A&P but cannot be sure.  Since my last retreat I discovered MTCB and worked on a being-in-the-present-moment practise to try to relax more while sitting as I was having very intense energy experiences which broke my concentration. I think I have solved these problems enough to progress. 

I am about to do a 3 week retreat in a few days and intend to fully maximise the opportunity. My intention is to attempt to cross the A&P and then to hit 1st path within the 3 weeks.

Is this a realistic goal and if it is what advice could people offer on doing it

Regards

RE: A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat
Answer
12/26/16 6:32 AM as a reply to lortle roff.
Welcome!

It is doable, but certainly not guaranteed.

Setting a goal like "stream entry" can be a double-edged sword, though. It can be a motivator, but it can also be distracting. "Not missing a single sensation, being mindful 24/7, paying continuous attention to the three characteristics" might be an alternative, or additional goal, to keep yourself on track.

What kind of retreat are you going to?

RE: A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat
Answer
12/26/16 7:34 AM as a reply to neko.
It's in the tradition of Ajarn Chom Tong. A variation of Mahasi Sayadaw noting. Noting in and out breaths, walking meditation. Precedes on to including sensations of particular points of the body as the course progresses. 

RE: A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat
Answer
12/26/16 9:52 AM as a reply to lortle roff.
Dhammacari perhaps?

RE: A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat
Answer
12/26/16 6:47 PM as a reply to neko.
Everytime I tried to get SE on retreat, I didn't succeed. I had lots of energetic problems from trying too hard. Eventually it happened, when I was just committed to just a daily practice at home (1 hour each evening). 

My best advice is similar to the statement above about being mindful 24/7. I would say it even more gently: intend to spend the full 3 weeks truly being on retreat. What does it feel like to be a human that sits, walks, eats, bathes, pees and poops, lies down, and dreams? Your experience of retreat should answer that question. 

That means being aware of how it feels to be a body and a mind on the retreat. You can use noting or breath as a method, but really what you are doing is being aware of what it actually means to be alive for all the hours of the day, from the moment you take your first breath or have your first thought, to the moment that body and thoughts slip away during deep sleep. It really isn't about doing a particular method or following a set of rules. The only rule is notice what it is like to have a body and a mind, do it continuously, and if you have drifted off, no big deal, that's part of the training, just be happy that you are aware again and notice what it feels like to be aware.

Most people think that meditation is about "doing" something that "gets" you stream entry. Actually, its more like the mind is given an opportunity to wake up from all the ways it normally is in a trance. The mind itself becomes more mindful, because it learns that mindfulness is more intimate, more enjoyable, more safe, more aware, etc. Being in a trance (lost in thoughts, fantasies, dullness) just isn't that interesting when you actually "see" it. So, getting better at mindfulness and eventually SE is not something you "do". It learns it by itself, especially when you maintain a consistent practice -- and no practice has more opportunities for consistency than retreat practice.

Balance effort and relaxation on retreat -- pretend that you will be on retreat for ever, until the end of time, and pace yourself with that mentality. A gentle and consistent practice is your goal.

It can help to state your intention (in your own words) as you begin the retreat. Think about why you want A&P and SE. Is it based on some sort of clinging? Greed, aversion, or fantasy? Be honest with yourself. What would it mean if all beings shared the benefits of your practice? If it feels right, you might want your intention to include "may my retreat benefit all beings."

Best wishes!

RE: A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat
Answer
12/26/16 7:01 PM as a reply to lortle roff.
What do you define as the A&P and what makes you think you haven't passed it? In my experience, it happened early on in my meditative practice, when I started to feel energy (any of the following: vibratory sensations with different rates including something similar to electrical sensations, flowing sensations, specific kinds of heat and cold that intuitively feel like "energy", points opening and closing, feelings of magnetic repulsion on the palms...).

As far as I know the "arising and passing away" of phenomena manifests as the breaking down of the feeling of solid matter into vibratory sensations and things of a similar nature. Concentration also temporarily gets really good. There can be a sense of impending attainment.

RE: A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat
Answer
12/27/16 1:07 AM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
I don't think I have much of a problem with the 'trying to get something' issue (at least not now).

I spent many years trying to 'get Jhana' and learnt the hard way how that works out. I suffer from some very peculiar sememingly permanent energy issues from that period. During the years it has taken me to be able to work through those problems I didn't/couldn't do practises such as noting because of the 'doing something' involved in the practise, saying the verbal note, nor could I observe the breath, as I would inadvertently control it and cause my energy issues to activate. I finally worked through this by developing a way of having having each sit firmly devoid of any kind of 'wanting' and stablising myself passively in the experience of the present moment but it took a long time.

This retreat will be my first return to intensive practice.

The reason I don't think I have crossed the A&P is that from reading other posts I recall someone saying something such as you will know when you pass it as it will be a very intense experience and have insights that can make you believe yourself to be englightened. Whilst over the years I had a few experiences that are very intense and strange, some very strange ones just prior to when the energy issue began, I don't believe I have had anything such as that occur. At the same time however this Dhamma obsession consumed my entire life, destroyed relationships, my career, has left me spending the last decade in a state where the 1st noble truth feels so deeply embedded that all those things seem meaningless in the long term, leaving me in a state that is a kind of 'an indifferent "meh" ' towards the world. I can't think of a better word for it than that. The present is unsatisfactory, unpleasant, and all the things that the modern world says solve that problem I _know_ will not lead to it being filled. So I kind of exist, practising in this neutral, almost pleasantless, 'meh' state. Sometimes I read people talk about dark night and think that sounds familiar but I would have surely had to have crossed the A&P first to be in that state right?

RE: A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat
Answer
12/27/16 6:45 AM as a reply to lortle roff.
Yup, A&P and Dark Night. 

If you don't have a good teacher who will help on this retreat, definitely read up on all the nanas again, even memorize them if you can. You will probably find times when you feel very emotional or stuck. Don't beat your head against a wall. Take a gentle step back and ask "what's going on here". Chances are you will say oh I'm...

Achy and feeling like crap - three characteristics

Vibrating, lucid dreaming, seeing lights, feeling energy... or just kinda buzzy and manic and wierdly spiritual/religious -- A&P

exhausted, indifferent and ignoring things - dissolution

Afraid and terrified of what could happen if energy problems happen again - fear

Sad and disillusioned with practice and the world - misery

Angry and frustrated with how things work - disgust

I just want to practice correctly and get this done, maybe I'll switch practices - desire for deliverance

I don't know what the heck is happening, I just try to investigate and it's all noise, I try to make things calm and I can't, everything thing I thought I fixed is broken again, I don't know what to do anymore, I probably shouldn't have gone on this retreat, there is no way I can accomplish anything with the time left, this retreat isn't for me, I should have gone to a workshop or on vacation, maybe I should do therapy or just go back to doing yoga, I still have some time left if I quit now and... fuck it, I'm out of here - reobservation. 

That's it, I give up, I don't care anymore. I'm just going to walk and sit, but I'm not going to meditate anymore - early EQ

This isn't so bad, I can just sit and walk, I can do this, and I'm learning a lot about myself and how reactive I am - mid EQ

This isn't even like being on retreat, it's sort of like daydreaming or being lazy and sunbathing and feeling good, I'm not even sure if this is right but it doesn't feel wrong, suffering really is caused by clinging, that's so clear now, even clinging to thoughts and sensations, this is so wierd and dreamy, who is even thinking these thoughts?, that's so strange - high EQ

I'm not even sure if this is a dream or if I'm awake, maybe I'll watch my thoughts while I sleep, I? what is I?, thoughts? what are thoughts?, what really does happen in sleep, sleepy, sleepy... --- sharp inbreath --- huh? That might be it. - maybe Stream Entry, maybe a near miss 

Note: you won't know if it is SE or a near miss for days sometimes. So keep practicing even if you are sure you have become an arhat on retreat. emoticon Keep noticing the sensations of breathing, keep noting -- whatever your method is.

Being in a nana is fine, even if it is a dark night nana. The dark night nanas have lessons to teach. You have to notice what is going on, see sensations as sensations, attraction/aversion/indifference as a/a/i, emotions as emotions, thought as thought. Don't rush to get out of a nana, but go deep, investigate, learn. Really experience the nana. If you want to go "past" it, go deep into it, go "through" it. Use the maps if you feel overwhelmed and need some objectivity. The nanas will present what they need to in order for you to see how you cling to different emotional states, rather than seeing them objectively as mind states. Learn each nana.

If someone is doing a retreat without access to a good teacher, they should write up their own "quick notes" for how the nanas might present on their retreat. What are the things that create, dissolution, fear, disgust, misery, desire for deliverance, what are your classic triggers/reobservation, what does ease feel like/EQ? Even if things present differently, this little bit of studying before the test can help! emoticon

There is no need to judge whether every little tickle of a sensation in a nana. Maybe check in during each meal time and figure out where you are. 3 or 4 times a day is probably a good number of check-ins. That said, you might be tempted to spend all your time mapping instead of investigating sensations. You might be tempted to think all the time about practice. NOTE THOSE BEHAVIORS, NOTE THOSE THOUGHTS!!! "Oh, mapping thought." "Oh, practice thought." "Oh, mapping thought again..."

Remember it doesn't matter if any thought or sensation comes up 1,000,000,000,000,000 times. It's not a problem. Just note it. If you get sick of noting the same thing over and over again, note "sick" or "sick of repeating notes". emoticon And start again.



Best wishes!

RE: A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat
Answer
12/27/16 6:59 AM as a reply to lortle roff.
Awareness, freshness, reality, mindfulness,.. anything what is like that tone is AP in realtime being cultivated. It is impermanent(anything what arises there or any experience) as the storehouse of it gets emptied out and now guarding the mind needs to be done because anything you do is "taking something what is not yours", like drugs to cure somethnig, eating sand or sensual activity etc it is hard to get pass that point of DN(suffering) without falling back due sinning. [if you want to evolve fast]

...
In a sense there is one state what you cultivate and simultaneously doing oneshots whatever rises and using force to hold yourself from wandering from object to object or activity to activity.

If your awareness store is empty, then you have no way to become aware, unless someone points it out to you, and due that the person gives you something and himself/herself gets emptied(feels bad). So it is pretty much useless to ask advice from written down or from mouth to mouth, if you follow higher vechile at that time.

RE: A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat
Answer
12/27/16 7:26 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Yup, A&P and Dark Night. 

If you don't have a good teacher who will help on this retreat, definitely read up on all the nanas again, even memorize them if you can. You will probably find times when you feel very emotional or stuck. Don't beat your head against a wall. Take a gentle step back and ask "what's going on here". Chances are you will say oh I'm...

Achy and feeling like crap - three characteristics

Vibrating, lucid dreaming, seeing lights, feeling energy... or just kinda buzzy and manic and wierdly spiritual/religious -- A&P

exhausted, indifferent and ignoring things - dissolution

Afraid and terrified of what could happen if energy problems happen again - fear

Sad and disillusioned with practice and the world - misery

Angry and frustrated with how things work - disgust

I just want to practice correctly and get this done, maybe I'll switch practices - desire for deliverance

I don't know what the heck is happening, I just try to investigate and it's all noise, I try to make things calm and I can't, everything thing I thought I fixed is broken again, I don't know what to do anymore, I probably shouldn't have gone on this retreat, there is no way I can accomplish anything with the time left, this retreat isn't for me, I should have gone to a workshop or on vacation, maybe I should do therapy or just go back to doing yoga, I still have some time left if I quit now and... fuck it, I'm out of here - reobservation. 

That's it, I give up, I don't care anymore. I'm just going to walk and sit, but I'm not going to meditate anymore - early EQ

This isn't so bad, I can just sit and walk, I can do this, and I'm learning a lot about myself and how reactive I am - mid EQ

This isn't even like being on retreat, it's sort of like daydreaming or being lazy and sunbathing and feeling good, I'm not even sure if this is right but it doesn't feel wrong, suffering really is caused by clinging, that's so clear now, even clinging to thoughts and sensations, this is so wierd and dreamy, who is even thinking these thoughts?, that's so strange - high EQ

I'm not even sure if this is a dream or if I'm awake, maybe I'll watch my thoughts while I sleep, I? what is I?, thoughts? what are thoughts?, what really does happen in sleep, sleepy, sleepy... --- sharp inbreath --- huh? That might be it. - maybe Stream Entry, maybe a near miss 

Note: you won't know if it is SE or a near miss for days sometimes. So keep practicing even if you are sure you have become an arhat on retreat. emoticon Keep noticing the sensations of breathing, keep noting -- whatever your method is.

Being in a nana is fine, even if it is a dark night nana. The dark night nanas have lessons to teach. You have to notice what is going on, see sensations as sensations, attraction/aversion/indifference as a/a/i, emotions as emotions, thought as thought. Don't rush to get out of a nana, but go deep, investigate, learn. Really experience the nana. If you want to go "past" it, go deep into it, go "through" it. Use the maps if you feel overwhelmed and need some objectivity. The nanas will present what they need to in order for you to see how you cling to different emotional states, rather than seeing them objectively as mind states. Learn each nana.

If someone is doing a retreat without access to a good teacher, they should write up their own "quick notes" for how the nanas might present on their retreat. What are the things that create, dissolution, fear, disgust, misery, desire for deliverance, what are your classic triggers/reobservation, what does ease feel like/EQ? Even if things present differently, this little bit of studying before the test can help! emoticon

There is no need to judge whether every little tickle of a sensation in a nana. Maybe check in during each meal time and figure out where you are. 3 or 4 times a day is probably a good number of check-ins. That said, you might be tempted to spend all your time mapping instead of investigating sensations. You might be tempted to think all the time about practice. NOTE THOSE BEHAVIORS, NOTE THOSE THOUGHTS!!! "Oh, mapping thought." "Oh, practice thought." "Oh, mapping thought again..."

Remember it doesn't matter if any thought or sensation comes up 1,000,000,000,000,000 times. It's not a problem. Just note it. If you get sick of noting the same thing over and over again, note "sick" or "sick of repeating notes". emoticon And start again.



Best wishes!


Wow thanks for taking the time to write that, it's greatly appreciated. As I read through that I was thinking 'oh yeah that thought sounds familiar, and that and that and that..', up to around the early EQ / reobservation ones. Also the part about resorting to writing short notes for next time to remind myself to not get trapped on that particular issue.

Even though when reading MCTB and the forums previously I had noticed similarities previously between my experiences and things I had read about regarding the Nanas, it never occurred to me that I was actually in those stages due to my assumption that I had yet to go across A&P.

In the days I have left I am going to do another read of MCTB and also try memorise the stages like you mentioned.

Thanks

RE: A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat
Answer
12/27/16 12:15 PM as a reply to lortle roff.
Sounds good.

Also remember you can go up and down through the nanas. It can feel like you are all over the place. It's fine to feel that way, it isn't a problem that needs to be fixed. That's just the way it goes some times. On retreat you might notice the nanas and how you go through them in stages... or you might only be able to note the individual symptoms of the stages.

Actually, just noting the symptoms -- the types of sensations, the types of attraction/aversion/indifference, the types of emotions, the types of thoughts -- is more than enough to make progress. Many people made progress and became fully awake without ever knowing this map.

Remember that the map is just a tool.  The important thing is really experiencing what is happening... gently and consistently being aware of what you are experiencing.

Enjoy the retreat!

RE: A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat
Answer
12/27/16 12:40 PM as a reply to shargrol.
One last suggestion... One thing I found helpful was to remember that the physical sensations of breathing are always in the current moment. So if you can find the breath and feel it, you are not lost, you are aware of the present moment.

RE: A&P to 1st path in 1 retreat
Answer
12/27/16 1:58 PM as a reply to lortle roff.
lortle roff:


In the days I have left I am going to do another read of MCTB and also try memorise the stages like you mentioned.


I also recommend reading Mahasi Sayadaw's Practical Insight Meditation. Here's the google books version: http://bit.ly/2hKXVFK

That version's complete. Some of the PDFs you'll find online only have parts of the book. It's quite short and useful.