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Madness or Stream Entry?

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Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
7/8/17 2:04 PM
In another thread, Daniel asked me what I thought stream entry was and why, and I'm not satisfied with the answer I gave.  So I'm posting this under "Attainment Claims" and would welcome any input as to whether this sounds anything like stream entry or just garden variety madness.  It's in kind of a long story form because a lot of weird things happened during the mania I experienced in January that may or may not be related to stream entry.

Keep in mind that before January of this year, I knew nothing of Buddhism, was a hard core rationalist and agnostic, and my universe was well defined with nicely squared corners and everything fit properly.  I didn't consider myself spiritual in any way and wasn't consciously a "seeker."  I'm equally open to the possibility that I've just accelerated down the path of madness.  Also, I tend to interpret these things in terms of bipolar disorder, since that's the language I'm most familiar with.

Any comments or questions are welcome.

The practical effects of what I think of as stream entry are the following (constant for the past 6 months, even through depression):

  • I know through experience that my sense of self is an illusion, though I still feel like a self.  I just don't believe it anymore.
  • Afterwards, I had an immediate release of bodily and mental tension that I didn't even realize I was carrying.  I notice this most while driving.  I have a 2 hr round trip commute to work, and this used to be a really frustrating experience.  Now, I'm totally at ease while driving, no matter what delays or close calls happen.
  • I'm more open.  I had a lot of social anxiety and feelings of personal inadequacy.  Even doing teleconferences with a large number of people caused a lot of anxiety.  This has fallen away.  If fear does arise, it just as quickly passes away and I don't attach to it like I used to.
  • I used to have no sympathy for people who engage in magical thinking.  I've now become one of those people.
As a warning, I don't encourage anyone with a mental illness to stop taking their meds.  I'm currently medicated again, and accept that I may need to remain so for the rest of my life.  I consider myself very lucky that my experiment without them didn't end in disaster.

After ten years on 1500 mg/day Depakote ER, I had become dissatisfied with the weight gain (10 lbs/yr) and general sense of anhedonia that I lived with daily, so I tapered off of it to see what would happen.  My mood slowly improved and I started developing healthy eating and exercise habits.  This continued until late January of this year when I could tell that I was becoming manic again.  I held off of restarting the meds because I wanted to see if I could cope with mania without them.  But I took precautions and had my parents check in on me in case things went awry.  I felt like if I could cope with mania without the meds, I would never have to fear it again.

During this time, I somehow became aware of something called the Progress of Insight and its similarity to the bipolar cycle in terms of mood.  This led to much reading and eventually to finding MCTB.  I read about 80% of it by the time the mania peaked and my behavior led to hospitalization.  

At one point, I felt that the mania was building and approaching its peak intensity, so I went to my parents house, informed them what was going on, and stood on their front porch while smoking a cigar to see what was going to happen.  The mania peaked, each moment of it was observed, asking myself if I was a danger to myself or others, and I felt a massive explosion of energy at the top of my head, a wave of joy and gratitude followed, which was almost more than I could stand, and then a weird thing happened.  It was a cold and stormy evening, but at that very moment, the sky turned hues from purple to orange, a rainbow appeared, and then it became overcast again as though it had never happened.

Shortly after this, I began rapid cycling, which has never happened before and hasn't happened since.  For about a day, I would go through complete bipolar cycles in the space of about 30 seconds.  There was something that felt like an A-Ha! moment, followed by laughing out loud, followed by tears, followed by contemplative stillness, and then the whole thing would repeat after a brief while.  As this was happening, I could feel an uncomfortable tingling mostly centered at the top of the head or the front of the head (third eye region).

So, that may have been stream entry, even though I didn't notice what I would think of as cessation of thoughts, and it would be attractive to think so.  But more weird stuff happened.

After this, I had to get in my car and drive to a specific place.  My interpretation of what was going on was incorrect at the time, but what happened in retrospect is that I packed up things representing my hindrances into my car and started driving.  My parents were following me because they were rightly concerned about my state of mind.  As I was driving, I had the realization that "I" wasn't driving the car.  I don't mean that this was a theory or way of looking at things.  I experienced that I was not in control of the car, which produced a lot of fear that I would crash.  As I approached what I thought was my destination, I began to take seemingly random turns, ignoring traffic lights and signs, and lost my parents.  Finally, I surrendered totally to what I couldn't control anyway and stopped trying to pay attention at all to where I was going.  Instead, I was highly focused on staring at traffic lights.  I lightly brushed against the curb, stopped the car, and got out.  I left the door open, tossed my keys, stripped off all of my clothes and started walking, not paying any attention to where I was going but just focusing intently on street lights.  For each sensation that arose, I focused on finding the 3C's in them until I could ignore them and return to focusing on the streetlights as I walked.  Finally, after walking across a major intersection, I stopped under a streetlight and just stared at it.  After some time, the streetlight broke up into an image of the Buddha surrounded on all sides by other Buddhas, surrounded by yet more Buddhas, etc.  But at each place where the buddha should have been, there was a blind spot.  Remembering that no perception can perceive itself, this seemed significant, but it might just have been a self-serving hallucination.

Immediately after seeing this, my parents found me, and made the cops, who were apparently trying to figure out how to approach me, comfortable about just approaching me.  I didn't resist in any way and was taken to the hospital for observation.  Some time later, while spontaneously meditating in the hospital, my breath became so subtle that it seemed to go away, and my tongue began to slowly protrude from my mouth.  This caused anxiety that I was suffocating, but I just found the 3C's in each moment of fear and pain until my tongue was touching the bottom of my chin, my head drooped and rolled from side to side and I came to.  This sounds silly, but I really felt that I was dying, but somehow I needed to accept that with equanimity to get to where I needed to be.  After I came to, all of my mental chatter was quiet.  There was action without thought, as though my brain were booting up.  The chatter came back online with time, though there isn't as much now as there used to be.  Interestingly, right after this happened, I started doing metta meditation towards myself and those around me and it seemed to have a concrete effect on the hospital staff around me.

Some time later, while spontaneously meditating, my eyes rolled up as far as they could, and I again had to do the 3C's through each moment of pain and fear, but then the same mental silence and rebooting happened.

The last weird silence thing that happened was that after meditating on the edge of my bed for a short while, I fell back and became insensate.  At some point later I heard another patient get a staff member and ask them if I was okay.  I was able to tell them "I'm fine," but it took great effort and was like I was coming back from a far off place.  After they left I returned to the place of being insensate for a time and then came to, again with the temporary mental silence and action without thought.

So I don't know.  Those three states of mental silence seem like they could be what happens after thought ceases, but at no point in the moment did I have the realization that, "Oh, thought has just ceased and restarted."

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
2/5/18 10:48 PM as a reply to dave m.
So, it's been a year since my experiences and I thought I would update this.

I can't claim stream entry, since I didn't observe a fruition.  My diagnosis is a very strong A&P, followed by who the hell knows.  I do know that despite not being a skilled meditator, my concentration spontaneously increased such that I could easily reach single-pointedness.  This level of concentration led to some insights as well as some craziness.

Some changes have persisted:
  • I'm still not identified with the doer, but there is a sense of self attached to the observer.  I feel like I'm just a passenger watching everything happen.  There may also be a subtle sense of controlling attention.  Even though I also believe this self to be false, I haven't yet experienced it at a level that forces an update of the self-model.
  • There's still a lack of tension, especially in my chest, that is just wonderful.  Emotions tend to come and go much more easily.  I had never noticed the link between muscle tension and holding on to emotions before.
  • Certain neurotic traits are just gone.  Self-consciousness, embarrassment, general anxiety, etc. just instantly fell away and haven't come back.  It's like they were an attempt to protect myself, but when the self-model changed, there was no longer a need to run those processes.
  • I still hear a high pitched ringing in my ears and see constant visual snow.  It's like these are both the same phenomenon (high frequency oscillation) in two different sense fields.  Increasing concentration makes them stronger.
And that's about it.  There's a much greater feeling of peace and ease in life, even when things are unpleasant.  There's much less for me to worry about, since I'm just watching it all happen.

This has all been a big surprise to me, and I'm curious to learn more about the nature of my reality.  The path forward seems to be to work on boosting my concentration until I can access 4th jhana at will and then do insight practice from that state of mind.  I guess my concern is that another forum member (Tom Tom) who was also diagnosed with bipolar I w/psychosis became schizophrenic at late 3rd or 4th path.  I've read that attaining the paths naturally increases your concentration as you go.

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
2/5/18 11:22 PM as a reply to dave m.
Sounds like stream entry to me (although I am no expert with "dharma diagnosis" and defer to Daniel Ingram here). 

The changes sound like they've been positive for you. Are you taking any medication? 

Given your tendency to have really strong A&P experiences that could be poentially de-stabilising, I would recommend you balance your insight practice with concentration practice and some type of analytical practice like loving-kindness or compassion. Dry insight can be rough enough as it is! These days I am a fan of Culadasa's approach (The Mind Illuminated) of combining concentration and insight, and my go-to practice for concentration is fire kasina. I find it to be very grounding and tranquil. You might enjoy this practice given your strong ability to concentrate. 

Metta
Anna

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
2/6/18 2:08 AM as a reply to Anna L.
Hi Anna,

Yes, I'm currently taking 1500 mg/day of Depakote (anti-convulsant).

So, something I'm dealing with now is an inability to even reach first jhana.  I really like Leigh Brasington's advice of staying with the breath until it becomes very subtle and then switching to a pleasant sensation.  The trouble is that for me, there's no pleasant sensation that I can find.  Likewise with metta, I just cannot generate the sense of compassion in the chest that you use as an object right now. 

This may be related to Depakote.  It stops mania for sure, but it flattens my affect tremendously, so that the highest I can feel is a contented flatness.  I've already talked to my psychiatrist about trying Lithium instead, to see if it can help control mania without flattening my affect so much.  But this is the time of year when I go manic, and I can feel that energy there at the moment, so it will be a few months before I can try it.

I had fun trying candle flame practice recently, though I can't see the red sphere that you all describe as first jhana.  Instead, the after-image stays flame shaped, changes colors until it's deep purple, and then starts doing weird things like disappearing and reappearing and moving in loop-de-loops.  But I'm enjoying your practice log.

At work, there's a circular plastic magnet on the wall that I concentrate on when I can.  Doing so produces a reliable series of events: first a bright corona forms around the edges, the corona flickers and changes a bit, then the magnet begins to move as though it's taking a drunkard's walk.  Who can even say what jhana looks like in this case?

Metta is an interesting topic.  I used it a bit last January to help out with some ungodly fear I was experiencing.  I actually consider it more of a practical concentration practice than an analytical one.  The feeling of compassion is as good an object to concentrate on as any other, and maybe even better.  It has some interesting side effects when coupled with strong concentration.  I swear that people were friendlier when I was doing metta.  Strangers would come up and greet me in grocery stores and such.  It became an amusing nuisance at times.

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
2/6/18 1:45 AM as a reply to dave m.
Hi Dave,

May I suggest you look into the huge possibilities of not being on the POI - a general map drawn up to guide practitioners of a certain form of insight? (Much of what happens in the POI e.g. Dark Night is universal but they often are not sequenced nicely for our convenience.) Divert that attention to the cause of wanting to identify/control/know where one is with regards to known maps? Use that knowledge to be aware of the subtle 'selfing' processes, need to control and thus see through them?

IME in the beginning, I was able to predictably go up/down the POI map, at a certain point after a spanner was thrown in the works and practice changed, after which there is no recognizable relationship to POI any longer. The day may come back that it does, but what good does it do me to wait for it? Time better spent to be aware of what nonsense is still there and sweat that off.

You read like you are not inclined towards the physical. Meditating the usual way focusing on felt sensations may not be for you. You can power your mindfulness (seems like you are already doing it) to specifically look out for those under the other 3 categories, systematically investigating/rooting them out in day to day life -> here.

Wishing you wisdom...

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
2/6/18 3:22 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Hi Yilun,

Thanks for the advice.  I agree that I may not be on the POI and it doesn't matter if I have stream entry, etc.  Everybody has to deal with their own reality regardless of how it lines up with maps.

At the moment, I'm doing self-enquiry throughout the day as I notice anything that feels like agency/doing.  But my main practice is concentration, which I hope will make insight/self-enquiry practice more likely to work.

I hope you're doing well.

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
2/6/18 3:55 AM as a reply to dave m.
A popular view of how self-inquiry works best is to achieve inner silence (via pranayama 1st then meditation) and with that clarity and stripped-away perceptions, knock better on the door of non-dual Awareness. -> aypsite.org 

Pleasant Sensation -> make the contact point of your breath on the nostril, THE location for Joy. It becomes joy when you make it so...

Wishing you Happiness...

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
2/6/18 7:04 AM as a reply to dave m.
  • I'm still not identified with the doer, but there is a sense of self attached to the observer.  I feel like I'm just a passenger watching everything happen.  There may also be a subtle sense of controlling attention.  Even though I also believe this self to be false, I haven't yet experienced it at a level that forces an update of the self-model.
  • There's still a lack of tension, especially in my chest, that is just wonderful.  Emotions tend to come and go much more easily.  I had never noticed the link between muscle tension and holding on to emotions before.
  • Certain neurotic traits are just gone.  Self-consciousness, embarrassment, general anxiety, etc. just instantly fell away and haven't come back.  It's like they were an attempt to protect myself, but when the self-model changed, there was no longer a need to run those processes.
  • I still hear a high pitched ringing in my ears and see constant visual snow.  It's like these are both the same phenomenon (high frequency oscillation) in two different sense fields.  Increasing concentration makes them stronger.
And that's about it.  There's a much greater feeling of peace and ease in life, even when things are unpleasant.  There's much less for me to worry about, since I'm just watching it all happen.

This has all been a big surprise to me, and I'm curious to learn more about the nature of my reality.  The path forward seems to be to work on boosting my concentration until I can access 4th jhana at will and then do insight practice from that state of mind.  I guess my concern is that another forum member (Tom Tom) who was also diagnosed with bipolar I w/psychosis became schizophrenic at late 3rd or 4th path.  I've read that attaining the paths naturally increases your concentration as you go.
Your story is very similar to my own, started out as a total materialist rationalist, being treated for mixed anxiety and depressive disorder, came off my meds after a year of daily practice, practiced like my life depended on it (it probably did) for 3 months, had horrible rapid cycling depression and hypomania, got to equanimity and experienced a 'glitch' while noting where it seemed like a short length of time had just skipped. Your 'practical effects' in the first post and the followup list above are identical in my experience down to the tinnitus and visual snow. The sudden lack of tension I remember, soon after that, I was just walking down the street talking to someone and it suddenly felt like there was a fist in my head and that I could unclench it, and everything seemed to suddenly loosen and never come back. There is still localised tension but it seems much more 'flowing' and spread around the body, rather than tight and centred so hard that I didn't even notice there was a centre before. I seem to know what to 'do' with the tension now in some intuitive sense that means that even if painful states arise, they're felt clearly and seem to be processed more efficiently. Even though some baseline of existential anxiety is gone, my body still produces painful material from time to time, but it feels now more work to be done than a burden.

Anyway, sorry for hijacking your post somewhat, I could really relate to it. I'm curious how your practice is now and what you do and seem to experience. In my case, what got me to this event, were a sort of mix of various sources of meditation instruction that I'd pieced together. After it, I found that those sort of 'DIY' tools weren't really working very well anymore, they seemed inefficient and unlikely to be able to do the rest of the job properly, so I learned a 'proper' system (Shinzen's, as it was the most accessible to me). But it still feels like a piece is missing in some subtle way though I'm still plugging away at insight practice. I haven't really taken the time to cultivate much samatha lately and that may well be it.

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
2/6/18 7:18 PM as a reply to dave m.
It sounds like you get some really interesting visuals from concentration practice. Maybe you could start a fire Kasina log and we can compare? I’m curious as to how others experience the practice as the current sample size of practitioners writing about this is very small. 

Regarding the absence of the first jhana or a tangible heart centre feeling, my advice would be to just work with what is there in the present moment.

Our attention is focused on a very narrow range of phenomena based on past habits, past conditioning, context etc. When we are present, we can ask ourselves, is there anything more productive I could be paying attention to within this infinitely rich present moment? Is there something I am missing? 

The other thing I did as a pre-cursor to starting a loving kindness and compassion practice was to purposely cultivate feelings of wonder, awe and gratitude. This could be towards nature, a piece of music, anything that stimulates you. The more you do this, the more you will train your attention to notice the things that generate these feelings and the more those feelings will arise. Can you spend any time with animals (dogs especially) if you enjoy them? I find that is a very quick way for me to feel unconditional love ☺️ Doing things for others might help too?

I was given some wonderful advice a few years back by a yogi called Bhava Ram. He told me that I am native to this planet. It took me a while to understand what he meant, but the paradox is that while there is no “self” to be found, we are still very much a human mammal living on this planet earth. Rejecting our humanity is just a form of spiritual bypassing. Embrace your humanity, understand that you are native to this planet and you will come to love it. 

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
2/6/18 10:17 PM as a reply to Lewis James.
Thanks for sharing your story.  I enjoy reading other people's experiences.

I had a very clear demonstration of selfing and tension this past year.  When another guy at work got a raise I thought I deserved, BAM!  Anger, pride, and resentment leading to unskillful thoughts.  After being caught in this for some minutes, I realized I was stuck in a loop and checked, and sure enough there was tension in the chest.  When the tension dissipated, the emotions receded, then the thoughts stopped.  This loop came back a couple of times, but was caught more quickly each time, until finally the thought, "this is unfair" just came and went with no emotional resonance or staying power.  Then it also stopped showing up. 

The painful stuff is definitely no fun, but I read an interview with Bernadette Roberts (a Christian mystic) where she said that "...right suffering is the essence of enlightenment." https://realization.org/p/bernadette-roberts/bodian.roberts-interview.html I thought that was an interesting take on it.

I've only really been doing concentration practice lately.  This mostly involves staring at a magnet on the wall at work.  Maybe an hour per day, sometimes less and sometimes more.  Sometimes days are skipped if I'm busy.  I don't know what to say about results.  I can usually maintain focus for an hour without being distracted.  If I get distracted, when I become aware of it, I just put the attention back on the magnet.  I don't really feel anything except calm.  Certainly no meditative joy or bliss or anything like that.

I'm not doing insight practice at the moment.  During the day, I'll walk around outside and try to get a sense of myself, using questions like: Where am I?  What are my boundaries?  What am I doing right now? etc.  But this is more just for curiosity at the moment.  Ultimately, I'll want to work on increasing moment to moment mindfulness throughout my daily life, but I want to focus on concentration for the time being.

Interestingly, early in the year, I felt an intense desire to pursue this enlightenment business.  It was to the point where it seemed like nothing else mattered, and I was doing a lot of open awareness practice at the time.  But it's almost like that was just another loop that has died away to the point where everything just seems okay at the moment.  I'm still really curious about the nature of reality and want to learn more (I mean this magical type stuff can't really be true can it?  If so, wtf?)  But it's not a hair on fire kind of thing right now.  Of course, this could change at any time.

I wish you the best.

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
2/6/18 11:12 PM as a reply to Anna L.
I'll give fire kasina a try for a few weeks to check my motivation level.  If I do it regularly enough to keep a log, I'd be willing to give it a shot.

I agree with you about dogs. emoticon

You may well be right about me simply not paying attention properly or using spiritual bypassing.  But my experience has been that I was on depakote for 10 years and experienced mostly anhedonia with occasional depression.  No happiness or joy or anything.  Then I was unmedicated for 2 years and had a normal range of appropriate emotions until I went manic, and now I'm back on depakote and have been emotionally flat since I stabilized on my current dose about 7 months ago.  The difference this time is that the flatness isn't unpleasant.  Hopefully switching meds will help.

I appreciate your advice.

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
2/7/18 1:55 AM as a reply to dave m.
Hey Dave, sorry if I wasn't clear - I meant that people who use spirituality to avoid being "human" or "opt out" of life (i.e. there's no self, so why bother trying, nothing matters) are spiritually bypassing. I didn't mean you were, and I definitely don't think that flatness due to medication equates to spiritual bypassing. I'm sorry that the meds make you feel that way. It sucks, and I hope that some of your meditation strategies might override that effect. Also, have you heard of NAC? Maybe something to talk to your doctor about? 

http://www.hps.com.au/knowledge-centre/clinical-articles/clinical-article-using-n-acetylcysteine-in-the-treatment-of-bipolar-disorders/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3044191/

I don't have bipolar myself, but have had episodes of debilitating clinical depression in the past and I empathise with you. I am optimistic that better treatments are coming soon! 

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
2/8/18 5:39 PM as a reply to dave m.
dave:
I'll give fire kasina a try for a few weeks to check my motivation level.  If I do it regularly enough to keep a log, I'd be willing to give it a shot.

I agree with you about dogs. emoticon

You may well be right about me simply not paying attention properly or using spiritual bypassing.  But my experience has been that I was on depakote for 10 years and experienced mostly anhedonia with occasional depression.  No happiness or joy or anything.  Then I was unmedicated for 2 years and had a normal range of appropriate emotions until I went manic, and now I'm back on depakote and have been emotionally flat since I stabilized on my current dose about 7 months ago.  The difference this time is that the flatness isn't unpleasant.  Hopefully switching meds will help.

I appreciate your advice.

Hi Dave, I heard some great advice from a teacher yesterday regarding developing meditative joy when none seems to exist. He suggested:

1. If there is no joy directly in practice, notice and pay attention to anything that is even slightly pleasant. Continue to do this so that it builds a feedback loop, and the pleasantness increases, which can eventually lead to joy.

2. Remember a time in the past when you experienced joy and see if you can re-create that feeling. Use that memory and feeling as the object of concentration. Similar to the "smiling makes you happy" idea. 

It would be interesting to see if you could overide some of the flatness with these strategies... 

Metta
Anna

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
2/9/18 10:19 AM as a reply to dave m.
Hi Dave,
what you've described and especially the fact that you've told that the effects have lasted for a year now, makes me think is was stream entry. I woudn't be too concerned about not having observed a fruition, as these are subtle things and stuff can go by without being noticed or labelled easily. I've never noticed a fruition myself, but judging from a bunch of other facts I'm certain that I'm pass stream entry. I also had some trouble understanding the doer/watcher/self/controller-thing. Basically, I'm not doing any of this stuff, but there's no denying that there is a special reference spot in my head and not under the table, for example. It's another one of those very subtle things that seem way more weird when you read about it, but time will teach if you keep on practicing. So, just keep on practicing and good luck! emoticon

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
6/20/18 6:20 PM as a reply to dave m.
I'm referencing Culadasa's discussion of stream entry in the podcast linked to in this message:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8527704#_19_message_8523446

He specifically talks about the "rites and rituals" fetter translating into an understanding of causality where there is no "magic," just all things happen due to causes and conditions that may or may not be fully understood.

Interestingly, with the change in my self-model (I now feel like some ill-defined watcher, rather than a doer of anything), I don't think I got any special understanding of causality that I am aware of.  I guess I can agree that everything happens causally, though I may not understand the relationship, but this doesn't feel like a firm, experiential knowledge in the same way that I know the egoic self is just an outfit that gets pulled out of the closet to fit the occasion, or in the way I know that Buddha actually knew what he was talking about and wasn't just bullshitting.

In fact, while Culadasa mentions that the stream enterer no longer believes in magic (I think he just meant that "everything's clearly causal"), I actually have had to adopt a magickal view to explain some of the stuff that's happened.  These events lead me to believe that my current view of causality is fundamentally mistaken in some way.  And while a non-dual view would probably explain these things away, I haven't had the insight yet that results in a non-dual view.

So, here are some examples of the strange things that have happened in the past year and a half that make me think my current view of causality is a bit screwy:

During my weird experiences 1.5 years ago, I experienced an ego death with strong concentration and mindfulness.  It felt like I was suffocating to death in exquisite detail.  I experienced pain and fear and had to accept it, and then it got worse, etc. until I faced my fear of death in full.  After that was done with, I realized that everyone else will have to face that same fear sooner or later and a tremendous feeling of compassion arose.  I focused strongly on that feeling until it seemed to radiate outward in waves, and I asked that those around me would have whatever help they needed when they needed it most.  After this subsided, a woman came into my room, collapsed on the floor in tears and thanked me.  I have no idea what she was thanking me for and had no other interaction with her.

My boss developed an aggressive cancer and quickly came very close to dying.  Needless to say, she had to take an extended leave of absence from work.  Remembering my own experience with the fear of death, I had been doing some metta meditation with her in mind whenever it occurred to me to do so.  One day after lunch, I found myself going to our canteen and buying her favorite candybar.  As I was walking back to my office (fully in watcher mode), I wondered why I had done that, since I wasn't hungry, didn't enjoy that candybar, and rarely bought food from our canteen because it's so overpriced.  Before I got back to my office, a co-worker told me that our former boss was in the parking lot, having made an unannounced visit to pick up some paperwork.  I went with him to see her and gave her the candybar, which she appreciated.  And yeah, it was just a candybar, but how about that timing?

While sitting in a dull meeting where a guy was discussing the status of our building's HVAC system, it occurred to my mind that if everything is really interconnected, then you should be able to get information about anything from anything else.  My mind entered a weird state of concentration, and suddenly it seemed like there were multiple levels of meaning to what the guy was saying.  I then interpreted what he was saying to mean that I would hit 2nd path in this lifetime and could do some work towards third, but would need to be reincarnated for conditions to be right for full awakening.  This felt similar to being psychotic and having "delusions of reference," but other than this experience, there was no other psychosis going on.  I don't even know if I believe in reincarnation, since I can't understand what there is to be reincarnated.

Lastly, I haven't played around with magical intention too much, just because I can't think of anything I really want.  It would be cool to better understand what's possible, and I think it would be great to have local friends to test this stuff out with, but my desire for that isn't enough at the moment to strongly intend that it should happen.  Plus, whatever it is that fulfills my intentions seems to have a very funny, but perverse, sense of humor.

One day, while sitting alone on a bench outside during lunch, I thought about testing out intention.  There wasn't anything I strongly wanted, so I thought back to The Matrix (in keeping w/Frank Heile's model) and the lady in red.  Since there were people coming and going about their business, I figured it shouldn't be too hard for this intention to be fulfilled, and I really didn't care whether it happened or not.  In my mind, I naturally pictured a beautiful woman in bright red, but decided to keep things as general as possible, so I simply asked to see a lady, strongly associated with red, appear before I got up to leave.  I then promptly forgot about it and just sat there.  I had to do a double take, when shortly afterwards a bright red ladybug crawled into view on a weed and flew over onto my shirt.  I hadn't seen any ladybugs there before, and haven't since.  WTF?

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
6/21/18 8:02 PM as a reply to dave m.
My gut feeling is that you can't quite say 'everything is causal.' Clearly, many things appear to be caused. 

But if the universe came into existence from absolutely nothing--there wasn't a scintila of matter, energy, time or space and then, suddenly, there was something--then what's the causal link there?

If something has always been--eternal, never created, always existent--then how was whatever that is caused exactly?

Causality seems to be a human conception, but certain things seem to be beyond human conception or abstraction. 

But what do I know? LOL. 

 

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
6/22/18 11:22 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
It´s great to read your experiences Dave!

Keep journaling!!!

l

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
6/23/18 3:58 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
Again, I don't have any confidence in my understanding of causality.  For that matter, I don't have much confidence in any of my interpretations of reality at the moment, since I'm pretty sure there's still quite a bit of fundamental delusion.  I appear to still be here, after all.

Interestingly, scientists just did an experiment to see if everything's causal.  Their conclusion is that if humans have free will, then some events have no cause: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/611159/how-the-nature-of-cause-and-effect-will-determine-the-future-of-quantum-technology/

And thanks, Alguidar.  I'll post if there are any further major shifts, but I might stick to the "wait a year and a day" rule.  I tend to pick up some weird beliefs that take a while to drop away when that kind of thing happens.

RE: Madness or Stream Entry?
Answer
8/7/18 9:42 PM as a reply to dave m.
I guess I'll use this thread as a log of experiences that seem insight-related.  If this is a problem or unwelcome at this site, perhaps a moderator will ask me to can it.

About a week ago, I experienced an A&P, and I got locked into an altered state of consciousness where the only thing that was real was NOW.  The past and future were obviously just mental constructs.  I was so focused on now that I had trouble remembering my name or more than a few hours into the past.  I also couldn't plan for the future.  I was pretty much just purely reacting to what was happening in the moment.  Causality seemed like total nonsense, and daily events seemed like disconnected dramas showing me where I was still attached to things.  Everything other than the present moment just seemed to be stories that I told to explain things, but there was no substance to them.  Oddly, there wasn't any euphoria or manic stuff that I normally experience, even though I hadn't slept in a couple of days.  I'm pretty sure there is some insight here that just isn't fully understood and was being interpreted incorrectly.  I mean, causality really isn't total nonsense, is it?

Anyways, it occasionally happens that I have to enact a symbolic Hero's Journey (Joseph Campbell) in real life.  I don't know why, and it seems silly, but it's not something that I intentionally do, and I have no power to stop it once it's in motion.  In fact, if I do anything other than complete surrender to the experiences, they lead to great suffering and potential death.  But as long as I totally go with them, there is apparent danger, but it's like I'm protected from serious harm somehow.  I've had three of them so far, and the second was where I got what I believe to be stream entry.  I had another one this time, but no path moment or lasting perceptual shifts.

They all have the same basic structure: renunciation of anything I'm attached to, complete surrender to weird behaviors, symbolic death and rebirth, then a return to normal life where most of the things I gave up are restored to me, but I'm no longer attached to them.  One thing I realized this time is that (assuming I'm not horribly deluded) they are external manifestations of the progress of insight.  So here's my interpretation of how the POI manifested through my most recent one.

I don't know about the first three nanas, since these things seem to begin with the A&P and go through equanimity.

I'm not positive about dissolution, but this journey began with me sitting under a tree (pretentious imagery, I know) for hours, meditating for a while and then just sitting.  It may or may not have occurred during this time.

I crossed a busy four lane highay without looking where I was going and came within a few inches of being hit by a speeding car.  To me this was the fear nana.

Then I walked through a graveyard and into a small pond (I can't swim).  As I crossed the thankfully only chest high pond, my legs sank into the mud up to the kneecaps with each step.  It was very difficult to take each step, and I left my shoes embedded in that mud.  This seemed to be misery.

As soon as I crawled onto the opposite shore, I noticed an outrageous number of piles of crap on the ground all around me.  There was a wrangling of poops, a jungle of poops I say.  Also, I no longer had any shoes.  This seemed like disgust.

After walking through that, I just waited to see what would happen next.  The authorities were called because of my weird behavior, and they took me to the ER for observation.  While sitting there being observed, I was hit with the very strong notion that I needed to head for the exit.  So I tried to do that and was conveyed to a locked, padded room, and from there to an inpatient facility for four days.  Over several hours, I made about five attempts to head for the exits, despite not being in any discomfort and having nothing to do and nowhere I wanted to go.  To me this seemed like desire for deliverance.

I don't know about reobservation.  I can't really think of anything that fits.

Equanimity came at the inpatient facility.  There is nothing to do at these places, and I spent hours lying in bed and watching the ceiling and being totally cool with it.  In the past, I became anxious to leave these places, but that didn't happen this time.  I was content with whatever was happening and didn't really care if I left or not.

Anyway, it seems likely to me that the bipolar cycles are the progress of insight, being a manifestation of "insight disease."  I would be very interested to know if anyone else experiences weird things like these symbolic Hero's Journeys.  I would rather not do them since I always end up in a residential facility at their conclusion, but I don't seem to have any say in the matter.  Also, some very weird and magickal things seem to happen during them.