Message Boards Message Boards

Toggle
Was this a path moment?
Answer
4/14/17 3:46 AM
Hi guys! First post here. Been a lurker for a number of months now, Read MTCB as part of my attachment to intellectual pursuits that impeded progress at one point. Love the forum as there are a lot of informed posters here and many of my questions have been answered here already! However, one​ question cannot be answered and I was hoping someone could help me out! Sorry if it's long, I've included a bit of history to make diagnosis easier but my actual experience is near the end, so scroll down to the last paragraph if you wish. emoticon

I've been practicing Buddhism formally for about 9 months now, after realising that the world's promises of happiness continually felt short. I was identified with certain karmic patterns and cycles without question, and Buddhism has been my only practice so far that has successfully taken on some pretty bizarre experiences in life and given them the empty meaning I needed to move on.

I've always been quite confused about progress on the path due to expectations not being met. Because of my intellectual bias, it's still difficult to ascertain whether an experience really is what I think it is. For instance, while I can easily remember my A&P experience, it wasn't the "fireworks, most incredible experience ever" that many people talk about. My experience has been one of meditation for the first time being extraordinarily focused, and noting becoming very rapid, but unsure how to really explain what was noted. I feel that it was similar to a hypomanic episode with much more awareness of the world. (As I had been diagnosed with bipolar 10 years ago, this makes it no big deal for me!) Also, around this time, it still became more difficult at times to focus for more than an hour (As I had been diagnosed with ADHD, this is still quite an achievement for me!). A few days later, after it seemed like my attention was laser sharp, everything went physically colder, the woods got spooky and I got bored and went home. Meditating was difficult after that, but it could well have just been a conceited​ sense of achievement. Days after that experience, with a bit of cannabis on the beach, for the first time, my mind truely let go into another A&P type experience​, this time, very intense, everything looked polarised and if I didn't know any better, I would have been very scared as it felt out of control.

Also, 2 years ago I had a 6 month long psychedelic binge on something called "AMT" which was a most peculiar chemical which I had a number of peak experiences that feel like they couldn't be any more intense, after which everything changed. Maybe it had propelled me into the dark night and I hadn't realised it. I realised at some point that substance abuse and spirituality may be causally affective but are not particularly compatible​! Afterwards there were other drug experiences when I had experienced such an extreme terror for no reason, it was like reality had become out of sync, and that alone was terrifying. Again that could be an example of insight into fear, but as these were chemically induced, I assumed they could be a type of seizure.

All of this has made me very cautious in labelling experience as I don't want to hinder legitimate progress. It has also meant the map hasn't been as linear as I thought it was which has caused further confusion. My drug experience now is an occasional bit of cannabis (without nicotine after quitting) which appears to temporarily boost my concentration that feels like it takes me through the ñanas up to equanamity on rare occasions, then straight back to a very dull baseline after.
What I noticed was the fear had gradually regressed into an existential anxiety, and I never really understood what disgust felt like (However if finding all ego's repulsive then that will do). After A&P, cannabis from that point on stopped me from feeling A&P like effects.

After my presumed official A&P stage, my dark night experience was minimal. Life was just very grey. Attention was short. No terror, some existential malaise but as I have lived with mental illness for most of my life, nothing to write home about. The difference was that I have never acted this responsible in my life and I didn't mask the feeling with worldly pursuits like before.

Gradually, my concentration increased again, back to normal. Things were alright. Constantly finding bits of my self to disassemble and throw away. Noticing the lack of balance formations gives. And it started to feel like the A&P, but no joy. Even during mystical states, it didn't excite me like before. By this point I stopped talking to my girlfriend about progress, stopped trying to convince her to meditate, and found it easy to sit again. During one meditation session I was so calm and restful that a blue tit flew around my head and landed on my knee for a moment!! Needless to say, I found this most distracting, and mildly exciting, so called it a day lol.

I felt like I was close by this point, to the point of mentioning to my girlfriend that it could happen soon.

:::::TLDR::::

Once again, I was putting around 2-3 hours a day practice in, and yesterday sat down for a morning sit. I walking meditated my way up the path for 5 minutes to get to the spot as this normally prepares me. I sat down and immediately felt very restful. My right side of my hip always hurts when I sit here cross legged for the first 10 mins so I contemplate the pain until it disappears. Like it has happened before, my vision started flickering, everything felt alive, but there was a knowledge that life couldn't be seen. Everything outside of my own mind was just matter, including this animated corpse in front of my very eyes (my body). Focusing on non self, I rest my awareness upon my thoughts and did the occasional body scan. Eventually, after a few ups and downs for about 30 mins, I felt my awareness increase loads. I realised that anything my awareness was at presented itself to me, everything else completely disappeared. This was new for me. It was all like a stream of awareness arising and passing. With some wierd gaps or visual thing I don't know, it was all rather quick. I then turned my attention in on itself, the attention. (This might be an effective direct pointing trick as an observer cannot  I observe itself) Some sensations, then I felt a mild (but very satisfying) bliss. Was that it??? I noted that it was strange to feel this bliss due to the equanamity and believed it may have been important. 

I always get some sort of afterglow from meditation, but everything was great, the sun was shining, everything was so crisp and clear, and I felt happy. Saw myself in the reflection and didn't realise that it was me, only intellectually. I even told my girlfriend I may have reached path which is a risk I would be very hesitant to take!

Work later was alright, had a part that could be very stressful, deliver food for deliveroo and there was a mess up, but it felt like there was a safety buffer and everything​ was managable. Meditated later outside, not sure what to make of it, was tired and cold, but it was certainly interesting.

Had 7 hours sleep, don't feel too tired so far but we shall see lol.

So yea, that's my experience, what do you guys think??

RE: Was this a path moment?
Answer
4/14/17 4:48 AM as a reply to Dom Stone.
Hi there 


Keep practicing and see if any patterns in experience start to arise. Paying attention and investigating the assumed "thing that is being aware" can trigger interesting results. So it's a development for sure. Keep probing and see if anything repeats. Give it some time and feel free to share your continued practice here for feedback. Time and more descriptions of further practice would help with diagnosis. 


kind regards
nikolai 

RE: Was this a path moment?
Answer
4/14/17 4:02 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Thank you for your reply. I had what could have been a fruition moment today and am starting to feel sure about this.

It felt like a fairly rapidly progression though the ñanas, starting with an edgy anticipation that I can relate to the A&P (Like a lower resolution but more engaging experience), I'm not good at putting words on these things hehe.

Just before what may have been a fruition, my legs started aching and thoughts felt unsatisfactory. There was a similar awareness​ of a boundless nothingness (Like there was somewhere my field of experience just hadn't reached yet but wasn't fully inclined to rest there due to my habitual craving of existence). I believe it touched upon this nothingness very briefly about 4 to 5 times before I lost concentration. The closest I can explain it was as if a plane is trying to land but it is going too fast and after hitting the ground, it goes back into the air again then hitting the ground until it finally flies away as concentration is lost. Once again I felt a sense of profound peace and happiness permeating all of my experience which made loving kindness to strangers easier as a result. People looked less stone faced as if my mind didn't care if they had defilements. And reality is either crystal clear or slightly distant but pleasurable. 

My sense of self has taken a beating too, it feels paradoxical in that I feel like I'm here but not here at the same time. 

This afterglow has lasted all day, and I am judging my experience much less on external factors as this insight seems to be the closest thing to a self I can currently put my mind on.

I've tried to call up jhanas, but it seems to be more like Vipassana jhanas than samatha.

RE: Was this a path moment?
Answer
4/15/17 12:53 PM as a reply to Dom Stone.
Ok so I'm​ definitely on 2nd path. All I can say is wow... Who would have thought. So many things have slotted into place and I now see why a stream enterer is no longer subject to the lower lokas. I knew I was missing out on 'baggage' before. This may sound conceited, but as this is a diagnostic thread, to save people's time, I am happy for this to conclude the topic and don't desire any replies unless I'm missing something so obvious, it hurts! 

RE: Was this a path moment?
Answer
4/15/17 1:24 PM as a reply to Dom Stone.
Just want to say I'm happy for you!

RE: Was this a path moment?
Answer
4/16/17 3:41 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Thank you! Hopefully I'll be an active member now that I have started posting, but I'm still quite shy.

RE: Was this a path moment?
Answer
4/16/17 6:34 AM as a reply to Dom Stone.
What happens if you follow these instructions:


http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/the-yogi-toolbox-attaining-jhana.html?m=1


Nick

RE: Was this a path moment?
Answer
4/16/17 11:38 AM as a reply to Dom Stone.
Dom,

A cessation event is when consciousness stops completely. Like a computer being unplugged. This is how Daniel describes it " In this non-state, there is absolutely no time, no space, no reference point, no experience, no mind, no consciousness, no nothingness, no somethingness, no body, no this, no that, no unity, no duality, and no anything else. Reality stops cold and then reappears."

Did this happen to you? It's a bit hard to tell from your description. 

RE: Was this a path moment?
Answer
4/17/17 3:09 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
What happens if you follow these instructions:


http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/the-yogi-toolbox-attaining-jhana.html?m=1


Nick

I've tried this a couple of times and the effects were interesting but not what I expected. My previous experience of jhana back when I was working on mainly concentration a few months ago were shocking at first. The sudden absorption was unexpected and did bizarre things to my spacial awareness. (Limbs in the wrong place and feeling like I was floating sideways). With this, it was more like a non-awareness instead of distortions. It was like being in the ñanas hooking onto the ñana itself as the object rather than anything within. 4th jhana comes easiest, probably because it is closest to the corresponding ñana. 

It feels like instead of the experience of jhana as ON/OFF with little range of intensity in between, the intensity of the experience varies greatly depending on my level of concentration. I can also reach it in a lower state of concentration, but as the state also feels like a possible background of many to experience, it doesn't feel as out of touch with everyday life.

Frustratingly, I can't yet touch upon the formless jhanas, it's like my mind doesn't know what to hook onto yet, but working on that one.


Jinxed, I'm typing from my phone browser and am having difficulty using quotations, so excuse the unclear​ formatting.

It felt like there were periods when either anatta or dukkha were prominent, and becoming more or less prominent depending on my ability to note with speed and clarity. If I note with less clarity, the signs tend to get noticed instead of the characteristic itself (eg Physical pain as a sign of Dukkha). If I note with less speed, I end up solidifying the state of higher equanamity and the characteristics become hidden to me.

If I note with speed and clarity, my mind becomes absorbed in this train of consciousness that in retrospect is revisited by my conceptual mind as a 3 dimensional swirling cloud of feelings and "I-ness" but at the time, was probably not like that at all. It wasn't the same conceptual conditions at the time though. The spatial feeling was only during memory of the event even if it was a 10th of a second before, but true noting had much more of a linear feel.

It is hard to comment (or think about) total cessation, as I have nothing to measure such a state with, but an impression of complete peace seems to be left, and remembered regardless. Thinking of my current impression of this feels more like "contemplation of the emptiness of the soul", or just some state that has always been there, but there's always been something stopping me from feeling it. During the fruition where it was called a few times it was like a piece of string, and the parts where there was experienced is coloured in, and it is only the parts coloured in, that mark any sense of time passing, but the string covers all of this anyway regardless of these markers. The comparison between this experience of linear time, being broken up by experiences without time feel like a paradox, which can only be understood when the whole string is viewed regardless of colour. I'm not sure if I explained that last bit well as it's quite new to me.

Already now, it's starting to feel like there were parts of "me", that still show somewhat in my personality, without the messy interconnectedness of self and experience that would be a source of suffering.

Suffering appears to be attenuated in some areas by partial disidentification with these areas of experience. For instance, certain ego games and arguments me and my girlfriend have had seem to have lost their stickiness and sting, but there seem to be a new deeper more subtle experience that is taking my main field of self experience. Nebulous and profound suffering. Something that I recognise from before, but the other distortions are no longer taking my attention away. 

I had some cannabis as an experiment yesterday, the first interesting result was the type of desire I had to consume it. Normally I find that it increases my insight due to the scrambling effect it has on parts of self normally clung to, and it has been useful on benchmarking progress and glimpsing what things will be like (at the expense of the expected karma). This was something else, shot into an A&P experience which blew my mind, (Reminded me of devic cosmology lol) followed by a most deeply confusing and unnerving dark night experience of a type I'd never experienced.

Interestingly, all the dukkha in the foreground (A certain level of self) on my previous path that cannabis would illuminate which gradually was being chipped away, was now completely eliminated, and it took a much higher dose to reduce my higher functioning mentality, but only after being gripped by the A&P experience.

It feels like some part of reality has disappeared but it is all just the same, minus the subconscious space that seems to have been freed up which feels nice. (Though I've been getting some seriously bad headaches lately!)

EDIT:

I want to add, that after the cessation type experiences, it feels like my day is just starting in that things are fresh and new, addictive thought patterns are yet to redevelop, some not at all. My experience of self no longer rests at a surface level and the coarsest tendencies are yet to return.