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Possible stream entry, AMA

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Possible stream entry, AMA
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10/17/17 10:11 PM
Hello everyone. This is my first post, but I've read Dharma Overground off and on for the past few months. 

My background is fairly irrelevant, but for context I have read MCTOB, dhamma padda, tao teh ching, New Testament, Koran, and quite a bit on the various western esoteric traditions (freemasonry, alchemy, hermeticism), Plato, and expositions on western philosophy.

My belief is that this intellectual background ( perhaps a path of Jnanic yoga as per Hinduism idea of various paths to enlightenment ) combined with reflection have allowed me to break through into stream entry.  I have definitely entered the dark night several times.

My current "worldview" (which is a very misleading word, since "worldview" could easily be applied to political ideology, relgion, etc)  very closely mirrors the description of first path, but rather than doing a long writeup, I was hoping that some Dharma Overground members would instead ask me a few questions.


This may seem self indulgent, but I think that I am intelligent enough to write a block of text that would have the fascimile of stream entry, and my fear is that my own personal desire for approval would cause me to tailor an answer in such a way as to produce the result I wanted.

Instead, I am asking the DO community to ask questions, which I will answer as best I can and as off the cuff as possible.  Ask questions that probe my understanding of the nature of reality, self, etc.  My answers will be completely candid.

Also, forgive me but my knowledge of buddhist lexicon is fairly limited.  Please if you intend to use specialized vocabulary limit it to words that are in the DO dictionary, or define it closely, since definitional misunderstandings can create a lot of unnecessary strife.

Thanks again guys <3

Cody

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/17/17 10:33 PM as a reply to Cody.
Cody:
Hello everyone. This is my first post, but I've read Dharma Overground off and on for the past few months. 

I was hoping that some Dharma Overground members would instead ask me a few questions.


Thanks again guys <3

Cody
Welcome Cody! Just some technical questions to move this along... Here we go!

1. Did you experience a cessation (pause/stop in the event leading to SE) and/or fruition (the attainment of SE, is there bliss - both after and lingering)? Can you describe how the process happened?

2. Can you repeat this event? If yes, how do you repeat it and is it the same as the above?

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/17/17 10:58 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
Cody:
Hello everyone. This is my first post, but I've read Dharma Overground off and on for the past few months. 

I was hoping that some Dharma Overground members would instead ask me a few questions.


Thanks again guys <3

Cody
Welcome Cody! Just some technical questions to move this along... Here we go!

1. Did you experience a cessation (pause/stop in the event leading to SE) and/or fruition (the attainment of SE, is there bliss - both after and lingering)? Can you describe how the process happened?

2. Can you repeat this event? If yes, how do you repeat it and is it the same as the above?
Thank you!

1.  No.  I never experienced anything earth shattering (I believe I exerienced kundalini one time during intense meditation in my teen years, but outside of that, nothing).  But, I think I have attained no self.

The reason I am questioning whether I attained stream entry is that beginning in the past 8 months, I began acting on stage, and was initiated into the freemasons.  These two events (stage work and masonic initiation) completely altered me.  When I looked at Theravada path models (this is off of wikipedia) I felt that this definition of my understanding of reality fit perfectly.

Stream-enterer (Sotapanna) is free from:
  • 1. Identity view
  • 2. Attachment to rites and rituals
  • 3. Doubt about the teachings

2.  As for repetition, it seems that "Cody" exists as an entity that "I" can phase in and out of.  "Cody" can choose to engage with the world and be affected, or "I" can create a sort of withdrawal, whereby even tragic events that cause "Cody" grief (in this case the near death of a pet) do not affect "I."  Even though "Cody" is visibly grieving.  This is something "I" can do at will, but usually only eradicate the self when acting on stage, in order to maximize vulnerability and spontaneity.

But even this language is limited, since "Cody" is a mutably object that changes based on social context, and "I" is something that doesn't exist as a disinct entity, but feels like an equally arbritary construction that is the byproduct of object and stimulus.

Edit:  I should have mentioned the stage work and masonry, since it was those things and intellectual study that acted in concert.

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/17/17 11:53 PM as a reply to Cody.
Are we talking 10 fetter or technical SE?  For 10 fetter, see the last 3 questions.  For technical, see the 2 below:

Have you had a cessation? 

Have you permanenlty but subtly reduced your sense of ownership of physical sensations?

Have you completely eradicated your mind's ability to doubt it's own adaptation mechanism (in terms of finding happiness in life circumstances)?

Have you completely eradicated your mind's ability to unnecessarily consider extra past-future data when making decisions?

Have you completely eradicated all sense of solidity of your behaviors, beliefs/belief systems & emotions (amongst other factors) in a way that causes your decision-making process to be maximally efficient?

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/18/17 12:47 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:
Are we talking 10 fetter or technical SE?  For 10 fetter, see the last 3 questions.  For technical, see the 2 below:

Have you had a cessation? 

Have you permanenlty but subtly reduced your sense of ownership of physical sensations?

Have you completely eradicated your mind's ability to doubt it's own adaptation mechanism (in terms of finding happiness in life circumstances)?

Have you completely eradicated your mind's ability to unnecessarily consider extra past-future data when making decisions?

Have you completely eradicated all sense of solidity of your behaviors, beliefs/belief systems & emotions (amongst other factors) in a way that causes your decision-making process to be maximally efficient?

Can you explain the difference between 10 fetters and technical stream entry?  I think I'm referring to 10 fetters.

1.  I do not believe I have had a cessation.  It is possible that during my more serious meditation during my teen years that such a thing occurred, but if so it did not stick with me nor do I remember it (and it sounds memorable enough for me to think I never experienced cessation).

2.  Yes, absolutely.  I do not believe I am at the point where I could hold a hot coal, or slowly cut off a finger, but sensate data has become externalized.  This same externalization has also occurred to emotions, viewpoints,  and convictions.

3.  Can you word this question differently?  I don't understand.  Are you referring to the dissatisfaction that results from the belief in a persistent "I"?

4.  This answer to this question is contingent on the time frame I have to make the decision.  If it is a spur of the moment thing, I imagine that past preferences and the bundle of aggregates that is "Cody" act impulsively and in accordance with that "karma."  If there is time to reason and a clear goal, then I act in terms of maximizing results, regardless of personal feelings.  

5.  Yes.  I now routinely act with disregard to my feeling or mental state.  Prior to my pursuing a theatrical career, I routinely hung around with the fringe right wing of American politics.  Because of the liberal nature of the theatrical community, I have had to routinely come into contact with paradigms that violated my own.   Repeated exposure to oppositional paradigms made me realize their lack of solidity, and exist only as thought constructs that served to impede my goals and prevent me from interracting with a larger swathe of humanity.

Now I understand behavors, beliefs, and emotions as tools that work to create rapport and feelings of group solidarity between humans.  I change them depending on social context.

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/18/17 9:54 AM as a reply to Cody.
1. Do you think SE is an intellectual understanding, or a subconscious procedural understanding (like driving a car/running/)?

I've always been a fan of Culadasa's three questions:


2. Do you feel as if you are a separate entity, in a world of other distinct entities?
3. Do you believe that your happinness depends on the interaction between you and these other entities?
4. Do you rely on your presumed ability to understand and predict how this world works in order to control or influence those interactions in a way that maximezes your happiness and minimizes your suffering?

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/18/17 5:11 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
1. Do you think SE is an intellectual understanding, or a subconscious procedural understanding (like driving a car/running/)?

I've always been a fan of Culadasa's three questions:


2. Do you feel as if you are a separate entity, in a world of other distinct entities?
3. Do you believe that your happinness depends on the interaction between you and these other entities?
4. Do you rely on your presumed ability to understand and predict how this world works in order to control or influence those interactions in a way that maximezes your happiness and minimizes your suffering?
1.  I'd definitely say a subconscious procedural understanding, but I'd compare it to constructing a building.  There was an intellectual scaffolding that enabled the SE building to be constructed, but afterwards the scaffolding fell away, leaving only the subconscious procedural.

2.  Sort of.  It seems that there are distinct entities, but they are innervated by the same fundamental source.  So I woudl say that yes, I am a distinct entitiy on one level, but at a deeper level there is no difference.  Superficial diversity gives way to a deeper unity.

3. That depends.  In terms of maximizing the mundane happiness of the human organism, then yes - social interraction is an essential element, along with diet and exercise, and a certain degree of financial stability.  If you are talking about supermundane happiness, then I will answer that in the next question.

4.  I think that this is question should be split into two parts.  When it comes to mundane happiness, then yes - I act in order to maximize it.  However, the kind of suffering that buddhism talks about isn't something that can be min/maxed away.  Suffering in the buddhist sense is not something that can be optimized away through clean eating, sex, health and money.  It's a foundational thing that has to do with our interraction and engagement with the world. 

If you elminiate buddhist suffering, then there exists within you a certain foundational stability that is utterly untouched by worldly events.  In theory if you took two people who had attained freedom from that kind of suffering, there would be no internal difference between a billionaire playboy and a tortured rape victim.  They would maintain the same psychic disposition, because that psychic core (or the absence of such a core) prohibits engagement with the world in such a way that it has any real effect on the "person" being affected.

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/18/17 6:20 PM as a reply to Cody.
Cody:

Now I understand behavors, beliefs, and emotions as tools that work to create rapport and feelings of group solidarity between humans.  I change them depending on social context.


1.Who/what understands?
2.Who/what changes them?
 When it comes to mundane happiness, then yes - I act in order to maximize it.
3.who/what acts?

4. Do you feel as though you make decisions?
5. Do you feel as though you think thoughts?

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/18/17 7:03 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
Cody:

Now I understand behavors, beliefs, and emotions as tools that work to create rapport and feelings of group solidarity between humans.  I change them depending on social context.


1.Who/what understands?
2.Who/what changes them?
 When it comes to mundane happiness, then yes - I act in order to maximize it.
3.who/what acts?

4. Do you feel as though you make decisions?
5. Do you feel as though you think thoughts?

1 & 2.  T  It isn't "I" but at the same time it is.  I am not sure that the language exists to explain this.  It is almost like the self is something like a rainbow.  When the light passes through moisture the rainbow is created, but as soon as the moisture evaporates, the rainbow dissipates.  So it's kind of like social context is the moisture, and the self is the created rainbow.  Most people maintain that rainbow, which becomes a fixed identity, but in reality is the moisture has long since evapored, so they are holding onto a non entity.

It would probably better more accurate to say that in absence of a fixed self, the self is created anew during each interraction, and this simulacrum is shaped to maximize happiness and minimize suffering. "I" do not shape it - it arises and fades organically.  

3.  This would be the aggregate "Cody."  It acts to maximize mundane happiness, which is happiness of the conventional, vernacular sense.  

4.  This is a tough one.  Deciding to post on Dharma Overground seemed like a choice.  I don't think this is a question I am capable of answering, because I still don't understand the nature of this "I" as opposed to the aggregate of "Cody." Does the "true self" act?  This is a question whose answer eludes me.  What is the nature of the self that concerns itself about attainments?  If an entity seeks to verify its own stage of enlightenment, is it really enlightened?  Because such behavior is indicative of a self that requires validation or confirmation.

These are not rhetorical questions.  If you have an answer, please inform me.  Because this is something I do not understand.

5. Thoughts are patterns that arise as a result of preceeding patterns.  Have you ever left your car door open, and the little buzzer beeps to let you know?  That's what a thought is like.  It's an automatic process.  It's not possible to think  yourself out of not thinking, since that'd be like trying to put out a fire with wood.  You have to quench it.  

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/18/17 8:13 PM as a reply to Cody.
Cody,

 I don't think this is a question I am capable of answering, because I still don't understand the nature of this "I" as opposed to the aggregate of "Cody." Does the "true self" act?  This is a question whose answer eludes me
There is no one who makes decisions. There is no one who thinks thoughts, or feels feelings. What happens is that various subconscious minds(various parts of the brain) project the thoughts and decisions that it made into consciousness. Now important - consciousness doesn't do anything - consciousness is merely the screen upon which subconscious minds project their information. 

 If you think or feel that you are consciously choosing to make any decision,  then you are still under the illusion of self. 

SE happens when the meditator has mastered concentration and insight. Concentration is needed, because when one is in deeps states of concentration (far beyond what normal people are capable of), all the various subconscious minds will become unified and tuned in to any insights that might occur. The culminating insight in the Mahasi tradition that leads to SE is called a cessation. This is when the mind becomes so equanimous, that none of the subminds react to any previous information by projecting new information into consciousness. Subjectively the meditator will notice a break, a blip, in experience, like a computer being shut off and then turned on again. Once back online the meditator will generally experience a bliss wave lasting anywhere from hours to weeks. 

The reason a cessation leads to SE is because all those tuned in subconscious minds now have experiential evidence that all of experienced reality, including all intentions, decisions, sense of self, are mere projections in consciousness. 

When people have mostly intellectual insight experiences into no-self, but without having mastered concentration, such as many philosophers and scientists and people who have read a lot of dharma books, these insights will only penetrate a few of the subminds (not most as when the subminds are unified in high states of concentration) and these insights won't be as transformative as the cessation experience, but a mere facsimile. 

 

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/18/17 9:03 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P,

Thanks for the indepth answer.  That was a great explanation, and I'd never seen it explained that way.  If you don't mind, I have a follow up.

If what you're saying is true - that the conscious mind is really just a manifestation of the unconscious, then what's the nature of that unconscious?

This seems like it leads to absolute determinism.  Does the sense of self shift to identify with those subminds, or is such a thing totally impossible - since the definition of the self is a projection of the subminds?

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/18/17 9:36 PM as a reply to Cody.
Cody:
Jinxed P,

Thanks for the indepth answer.  That was a great explanation, and I'd never seen it explained that way.  If you don't mind, I have a follow up.

If what you're saying is true - that the conscious mind is really just a manifestation of the unconscious, then what's the nature of that unconscious?
This seems like it leads to absolute determinism.  Does the sense of self shift to identify with those subminds, or is such a thing totally impossible - since the definition of the self is a projection of the subminds?

The latter. The sense of self drops away.  A great deal of this falling away happens at SE, and completely at 4th path. And yea, you are are right about determinism. The experience of someone at 4th path is that it is all (including sensations of will/volition) just happening. 

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/18/17 10:46 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P,

Thanks again for the answer.  What you've said leads me to believe that my experience was a fascimile.  It looks like the only way forward is concentration and insight practice.

However, do you know how Buddhist respond to ideas like emergent complexity?

It seems as though the kind of meditation that you and other practitioners engage in is essentially a breaking down of the self, and could almost be compared to mind hacking ( or meditatively induced schizophrenia - there seems to be little difference between enlightenment and clinical diagnoses of mental illness).

There is this huge element of Buddhism that sounds similar to some branches of mereology (I don't know the exact word for it, but the idea is that nothing really exists, it's just arranged collections of matter).  I think the analaogue is skhandas/five aggregates.

So you've realized that consciousness is a collection of unseen moving parts, in the same way that a car is.  Does that mean it doesn't exist?  Another way to put it would be that you've understood the nature of self, and not destroyed it.  On the other hand, this could well be arguing over verbage, and completely irrelevant to the actual reality.  

And what is the impulse that is leading you to pursue stream entry/further paths?  The origins of that impulse seem to indicate something seeking liberation - not nothing.  Or was your enlightenment predetermined by various aggregates that came together via preexisting circumstances to produce the entity of Jinxed P that was "destined" for enlightenment? 

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/19/17 7:48 AM as a reply to Cody.
Cody:
Jinxed P,

Thanks again for the answer.  What you've said leads me to believe that my experience was a fascimile.  It looks like the only way forward is concentration and insight practice.

However, do you know how Buddhist respond to ideas like emergent complexity?

It seems as though the kind of meditation that you and other practitioners engage in is essentially a breaking down of the self, and could almost be compared to mind hacking ( or meditatively induced schizophrenia - there seems to be little difference between enlightenment and clinical diagnoses of mental illness).

There is this huge element of Buddhism that sounds similar to some branches of mereology (I don't know the exact word for it, but the idea is that nothing really exists, it's just arranged collections of matter).  I think the analaogue is skhandas/five aggregates.

So you've realized that consciousness is a collection of unseen moving parts, in the same way that a car is.  Does that mean it doesn't exist?  Another way to put it would be that you've understood the nature of self, and not destroyed it.  On the other hand, this could well be arguing over verbage, and completely irrelevant to the actual reality.  

And what is the impulse that is leading you to pursue stream entry/further paths?  The origins of that impulse seem to indicate something seeking liberation - not nothing.  Or was your enlightenment predetermined by various aggregates that came together via preexisting circumstances to produce the entity of Jinxed P that was "destined" for enlightenment? 
I think of it and practice - building the truth from scratch, like a new-born baby, no longer believing the truth of what I gained from the previous conditioning, using the 6 senses (6th being mind) to observe reality through sensations, observing them with utmost objectivity and empiricism. The mind will naturally rebuild itself with the observed phenomena and grow through all the paths. If you are interested, read MCTB and decide if you deem this a worthy endeavor, you may also search on this site: although I have never come across anyone saying they will not do this, if given the chance to choose again... The benefits are astounding, the journey is great (there are some pains, but they teach important lessons)...

RE: Pursue:- 
There are permanent reductions in suffering, happiness and well-being becomes gradually more and more imperturbable and requires little to no 'support' from external factors, one can command drug-like states if desired, recharge the brain via meditation, choices/thinking pathways are shortened/simplified (living becomes a continuous wonderful journey) - I cannot think of a more worthy endeavor. Do read the warnings in MCTB though! emoticon

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/19/17 8:16 AM as a reply to Cody.
Cody:
Jinxed P,



It seems as though the kind of meditation that you and other practitioners engage in is essentially a breaking down of the self, and could almost be compared to mind hacking ( or meditatively induced schizophrenia - there seems to be little difference between enlightenment and clinical diagnoses of mental illness).


Well there is a huge difference between enlightenment and schizophrenia. A schizophrenic is bothered by auditory and visual hallucinations, they generate strange, paranoid beliefs such as their dog is telling them to kill people (son of sam), and they speak in an incoherent jumbled word salad.  Other mental illness like bi-polar, and lesser ones like anxiety and depression involve intense negative emotional states. 

Enlightenment is nothing like that. People who are enlightened have exceptional mental balance, peace and clarity. It's the ultimate mental health. If you look at people like the Dalai Lama, Mattieu Ricard, Culadasa, Yongey Mingur Rinpoche, Alan Wallace, you can see that they enjoy some pretty great mental well-being. 
Or was your enlightenment predetermined by various aggregates that came together via preexisting circumstances to produce the entity of Jinxed P that was "destined" for enlightenment? 
Bingo. We are all made of atoms and molecules just following out the laws of physics. To believe anything different, would be to believe that somewhere along our evolutionary history we evolved (or were given) some magical ability to change the laws of physics. 

You seem like a smart, studious guy. I'd highly recommend the book "The Mind Illuminated" by Culadasa (John Yates). He's a neuroscientist and wrote this incredible book that's both the most in-depth meditation manual ever written and science of the brain of what happens to it during the meditative path and enlightenment. 

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/19/17 8:45 AM as a reply to Cody.
I think a better way of looking at it is through the lens of narrative.  If you take humans out of the universe - there are no stories.  Things are just happening do to the laws of physics and no one cares.  If you add humans back in - then we get the history of the Roman empire and the Holocaust and that girl who sort of likes me and Harvey Weinstein and ABBA.  So, everything we care about and are worried about and suffer from exists only as a function of human activity.  

Believing humans are somehow different and more important than squirrels or Palm trees  is the fundamental delusion - an obvious one- and if you let that go then the world looks perfect and agencyless and meaningless.  It really is that way, the rest is just shit we made up.  Happily, when the mind confronts a perfect undifferentiated and unchanging (nothing meaningful happening) existence - it becomes complete at easy and stops pretending it is seperate from anything.  This feels good and is the "truth".  

There is another level, where you see that even that isnt "true", but as a target - dropping narrative  is a great way to look at things.  Can you just sit and be happy and let whatever nonsense arises just be nonsense? Any action or activity you do that takes you out of the narrative mind or helps you drop narrative that you still think are real will help you become a more rational and present person - enlightened.  

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/19/17 10:12 AM as a reply to Cody.
Hello Cody.

Can you tell us about the "moment" when this change to you occurred? What did it look/feel/sound etc. like? What did it feel like to be you in that moment, how would you define what you are in that moment and it's relationship to what is external to that.

Do you have any core insights about that moment, or the events around it. How do you see things now? 

-

Around here, the real proof of the pudding is if you are able to maintain the insights of this shift for a year. I think this is a great yardstick.

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/19/17 10:18 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
I think a better way of looking at it is through the lens of narrative.  If you take humans out of the universe - there are no stories.  Things are just happening do to the laws of physics and no one cares.  If you add humans back in - then we get the history of the Roman empire and the Holocaust and that girl who sort of likes me and Harvey Weinstein and ABBA.  So, everything we care about and are worried about and suffer from exists only as a function of human activity.  

Believing humans are somehow different and more important than squirrels or Palm trees  is the fundamental delusion - an obvious one- and if you let that go then the world looks perfect and agencyless and meaningless.  It really is that way, the rest is just shit we made up.  Happily, when the mind confronts a perfect undifferentiated and unchanging (nothing meaningful happening) existence - it becomes complete at easy and stops pretending it is seperate from anything.  This feels good and is the "truth".  

There is another level, where you see that even that isnt "true", but as a target - dropping narrative  is a great way to look at things.  Can you just sit and be happy and let whatever nonsense arises just be nonsense? Any action or activity you do that takes you out of the narrative mind or helps you drop narrative that you still think are real will help you become a more rational and present person - enlightened.  

Love what you wrote here and agree. I would zoom in even further:
If you take humans out of the universe - there are no stories.

How about if you take the thinking process out? From the space in between thoughts in empty mind you can watch as your first thought cleaves that nonduality into subject/object, or "this" happens to "that", when, in the NOW before that, there was just the THIS/NOW/NOSPACE that is the nature of mind.  

It is conceptual thought, and the thinking process that creates the duality.

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/19/17 8:07 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong,

Yeah, I read MCTOB.  It's easily the best book so far that I've found on the subject - but thank you again for the recommendation.

However, I've got to say that the reductions in suffering don't really have any appeal.  Especially if it's the suffering of duality / existenstial suffering (as opposed to mundane pain).

But, experimentation with Siddhis and higher jhanic states looks like a lot of fun. emoticon

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/19/17 8:29 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
Cody:
Jinxed P,



It seems as though the kind of meditation that you and other practitioners engage in is essentially a breaking down of the self, and could almost be compared to mind hacking ( or meditatively induced schizophrenia - there seems to be little difference between enlightenment and clinical diagnoses of mental illness).


Well there is a huge difference between enlightenment and schizophrenia. A schizophrenic is bothered by auditory and visual hallucinations, they generate strange, paranoid beliefs such as their dog is telling them to kill people (son of sam), and they speak in an incoherent jumbled word salad.  Other mental illness like bi-polar, and lesser ones like anxiety and depression involve intense negative emotional states. 

Enlightenment is nothing like that. People who are enlightened have exceptional mental balance, peace and clarity. It's the ultimate mental health. If you look at people like the Dalai Lama, Mattieu Ricard, Culadasa, Yongey Mingur Rinpoche, Alan Wallace, you can see that they enjoy some pretty great mental well-being. 
Or was your enlightenment predetermined by various aggregates that came together via preexisting circumstances to produce the entity of Jinxed P that was "destined" for enlightenment? 
Bingo. We are all made of atoms and molecules just following out the laws of physics. To believe anything different, would be to believe that somewhere along our evolutionary history we evolved (or were given) some magical ability to change the laws of physics. 

You seem like a smart, studious guy. I'd highly recommend the book "The Mind Illuminated" by Culadasa (John Yates). He's a neuroscientist and wrote this incredible book that's both the most in-depth meditation manual ever written and science of the brain of what happens to it during the meditative path and enlightenment. 
Thanks for the offer on the book. (appreciate the compliment, btw) I checked it out on Amazon and purchased it.  Actually, it looks like exactly the book I was looking for.  One of the big turn off for me in getting into Buddhism is the amount of cultural baggage and junk mythology that's crept in.  You could argue that Theravada is the least suspeptible to that, but still.

Also, there's a huge amount of specialized vocabulary that presents a decent barrier.  I understand that the entire Pali Canon hasnt even been translated into English, and though I mostly trust translators, there's a huge cultural gap that spans 2,500 years.  It looks promising -a secular road to enlightenment with the scary Pali/Sanskrit vocab taken out.

However, regarding what you've said about molecules and the magical ability to change the law of physics....

You are proposing a really hardline determinism, and whenever you make those kind of assertions, you open yourself up to pretty serious criticism from philosophers.  It's true that most don't have experience with the kind of mind mapping you've done, but I'd be very hesitant about making such strong claims.  It feels like there should be a middle path between freewill and determinism.

One of the things that strikes me immediately is that Buddhism (and most other esoteric paths) preach a very strict morality.  In the context of determinism, such morality makes very little sense.

Even from observing the community at Dharma Overground, you've established rules of conduct, and even have a subforum where you celebrate births and mourn deaths.  I find that very strange in the context of determinism.  Why should we celebrate the inevitable instances of dissolving and manifesting aggregates?

It's like, understand on a root level morality doesn't exist, nor does free will, but pretend that those things do so that we can have a functional community?  Why not just acknowledge the existence of a higher pattern that emerges from grosser substances?

I'm not criticizing you here - especially since I haven't done the psychic surgery of insight/concentration practice, but I would like to understand further (in fact, such understanding might be outside the scope of this forum, but I've thoroughly enjoyed our conversation).

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/19/17 9:40 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
I think a better way of looking at it is through the lens of narrative....

....will help you become a more rational and present person - enlightened.  

I'm not sure.  What you're proposing is really indistinguishable from nihilism (if it's not, then forgive me for putting words in your mouth - not my intent).  Again, I feel that there is going to be a some middle way through the dilemma that is "no meaning" or "absolute meaning."  The exact answer I'm unsure, but it feels as though you are offering half the solution, and the other is half out there somewhere.

Even if in an "ultimate reality" sense of things humans are no more important than squirrels, that is entirely theoretical.  Operatively, everyone acts in such a way that implies meaning.  Nihilists pretty much can't practice what they preach.  Functionally, if you lived your life as though squirrels were as important as people (or if it were done at a societal wide level ) society wouldn't last very long.  Authentically lived nihilism self refutes, and the alternative is to be an intellectual nihilist who lives his life in a manner that completely contridicts nihilism.

And even though there are (as there always are) going to be issues at the nitty gritty philosophical level, acting as though our lives have meaning and value and that morality exists as an active force in our lives is the only way to live functionally in this world with other people.  To live without narratives or conceptualization robs us of the ability to learn and interract with the world (but getting too attached to said concepts and narratives also gets us into trouble!)

At the same time, I understand what you're saying about letting go of narratives for the sake of exploring different cognitive states.  Perhaps there is a time and place for both modalities?

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/19/17 10:30 PM as a reply to Cody.
You are still hanging onto this idea that there are seperate beings with agency and that any of this means anything to anyone.   Stream Entry is seeing that this isnt true.  

A good place to start would be thinking about why Nihilism scares you or turns you off.  Do any of the reasons make sense if there is no seperate self or soul responsible for its actions?  If not, then ( if you believe there is no seperate self)  those reasons are delusional and you should work to let them go if your goal is to get closer to stream entry. 

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/20/17 9:54 AM as a reply to Cody.
Cody,

Good questions. And you are right, there should and is a middle path between free will and determinism.  I am actually what philosopher's call a compatibalist, which according to the philpaper surveys( a survey of the worlds philosophers) is by far the most popular position:. 

"Free will: compatibilism, libertarianism, or no free will?
Accept or lean toward: compatibilism550 / 931 (59.1%)
Other139 / 931 (14.9%)
Accept or lean toward: libertarianism128 / 931 (13.7%)
Accept or lean toward: no free will114 / 931 (12.2%)"

https://philpapers.org/surveys/results.pl

A compatibalist believes that determinism is true and we still have free will.  How is this possible? Well it all depends on how we define free will. If having free will means "libertarian free will" which means humans are free from physical determinism then no we don't have free will. But what we do have is the ability to make rational choices. We have the ability to survey different options and choose the best one. Just as Deep Blue the chess playing computer can choose whether to kill your queen or capture your rook. You can think of us as biological androids.

And compatibalists don't believe that determinism makes morality irrelevant since part of human programming is "machine learning", the ability to adapt our behavior to new information. So imposing rules can change behavior, the threat of punishment can keep someone from committing a crime. And for those who break the rules and are a danger to society, we are justified in quaranting rapists and murderers away from the general public just as you would a rabid dog. 

As for your example of mourning death - well humans are biologically wired to grieve a death and celebrate birth, and also biologically wired to seek comfort and community in the wake of death, so this process of mourning can be psychologically beneficial. And the celebration of birth comforts the new parents in knowing that they have community support. Perhaps if someone was fully enlightened they wouldn't mourn deaths or celebrate births, I've heard stories of meditators who showed no grief when their child died, but these are very, very deeply ingrained emotions in people and those who would not suffer at all from the death of their child is pretty rare. 

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/20/17 10:36 AM as a reply to Cody.
Hi Cody, 

I'm not sure that acting without an actor has to lead to determinism and nihilism.

Think about driving a car - you do this intuitively most of the time, without thinking.  What if there was another level of intuition beyond that - driving without being.  I have only very minor glimpses of acting without an actor, but it seems to me that this is what it is. The sub-minds are still making choices about how the psycho-physical organism interacts with the environment, but they not overlaying this with the illusion of separate self who has made those choices.

There is a fair amount of neuroscience research that seems to show we make 'decisions' after we take actions, rather than before. So there is some support for the argument that our 'choices' really are illusions.  But that doesn't mean we don't make choices somewere in the subminds, rather that the illusory conscious choices are fleeting, not-us, and create suffering.

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/20/17 10:44 AM as a reply to curious.
The things is, there is never a doer and never has been.   What you think is happening is irrelevant and is the only thing that is changing as you move towards liberation.  You are not reliquishing free will, just realizing that it has always been a delusion. 

RE: Possible stream entry, AMA
Answer
10/20/17 4:17 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
You are still hanging onto this idea that there are seperate beings with agency and that any of this means anything to anyone.   Stream Entry is seeing that this isnt true.

So many threads here could be SO much shorter (see vegan thread) if there was any easier way for everyone to SEE this first hand.

This is what seeing though self IS. This is what Stream Entry IS. It's not completing some abstract cycle of nonexistent events - it's seeing through separateness and realizing just what that means to every aspect of "your" life.