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Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/7/18 5:09 AM
TMI Page 526:
If the sub-minds are receptive but there’s nothing to receive, can a cessation event be consciously recalled afterward? It all depends on the nature of the shared intention before the cessation occurred. If the intention of all the tuned in sub-minds was to observe objects of consciousness, as with popular “noting” practices, all that’s subsequently recalled is an absence, a gap. After all, if every object of consciousness ceases, and there’s no intention for the sub-minds to observe anything else, then nothing gets imprinted in memory. However, if the intention was to be metacognitively aware of the state and activities of the mind, we would remember having been fully conscious, but not conscious of anything. We would recall having a pure consciousness experience (PCE), or an experience of consciousness without an object (CWO)
Anyone else found this to be true? I do not note in EQ and always find myself with the latter experience...

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/7/18 7:32 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Put me in the camp that the whole idea of having "consciousness without an object" isn't a thing. There has to be an object of some sort or there is nothing - aka, cessation. This is confusing, I think, because folks forget how nuanced consciousness can be, and how well disguised objects can be.

JMHO

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/7/18 8:43 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I agree with Chris and I note there is a little bit of equivocation in the language which is being used, which is key to reconciling this:

"we would remember having been fully conscious, but not conscious of anything."

The key phrase is "we would remember". In otherwords, it's after transitioning out of cessation that some aspect is "remembered". (Pak Awk  Sayadaw's tradition also tends to talk about the quality of cessations, based on the impression that is left behind after transitioning out of it.)

There is definitely an lingering after-effect of cessation, for sure, but it seems pretty straight forward to me: cessation itself is a no consciousness experience. 

That said, I'm not dogmatic about it. If it seems messier (not complete cessation) is some people's experience, that's fine with me. Doesn't matter to me. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if there are actually variations in people's experience of cessation, like how we experience nanas or jhanas, etc. Shocking statement, huh? emoticon  Such a heretic. emoticon

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/7/18 9:33 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Funny, I was going to add a comment to my first post that said something like, "But my version of this is not worth arguing about."


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RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/7/18 11:33 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
TMI Page 526:
If the sub-minds are receptive but there’s nothing to receive, can a cessation event be consciously recalled afterward? It all depends on the nature of the shared intention before the cessation occurred. If the intention of all the tuned in sub-minds was to observe objects of consciousness, as with popular “noting” practices, all that’s subsequently recalled is an absence, a gap. After all, if every object of consciousness ceases, and there’s no intention for the sub-minds to observe anything else, then nothing gets imprinted in memory. However, if the intention was to be metacognitively aware of the state and activities of the mind, we would remember having been fully conscious, but not conscious of anything. We would recall having a pure consciousness experience (PCE), or an experience of consciousness without an object (CWO)
Anyone else found this to be true? I do not note in EQ and always find myself with the latter experience...


I remember cessation as a black blip, preceeded by a distinct "thing happening"/buildup in the middle of the brain, and it is very soon followed by a white flash, bliss, relief, and whatnot.

I do remember the black blip sometimes, though most of the times it isn't perceptible (or maybe it doesn't happen), and my biggest clue that a cessation happened is really the aftermath of it.

I never found the whole "nothingness" "no experience" or whatever language very helpful, not to mention the whole "I am god" variants that prop up in various places, which always felt like a very illogical and bizarre overinterpretation of the thing.

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/7/18 11:41 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
In retrospect, it seems to be at least some truth in what Culadasa said. I have experienced both kinds and it really seems like the difference in the blip is in whether one is looking at objects or at the state of mind - my experience is that when I am zoomed out all the way (Chris - I wouldn't say no object but kind of like an overview of looking at the bigger picture?), the blip is more conscious (everything still falls away) than if I am with objects. It is all looking back at what the mind throwbacks the experience as anyhow. No access to it for months already and could be years till the next - so some folks might want to test this out... emoticon

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 1:16 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
In retrospect, it seems to be at least some truth in what Culadasa said. I have experienced both kinds and it really seems like the difference in the blip is in whether one is looking at objects or at the state of mind - my experience is that when I am zoomed out all the way, the blip is more conscious than if I am with objects. It is all looking back at what the mind throwbacks the experience as anyhow. No access to it for months already and could be years till the next - so some folks might want to test this out... emoticon

That aligns with my fuzzy intuitive understanding that some of the differences are a result of a similar process experienced from different vantage points and sometimes with different variables. Most of my accumulated knowledge was from psychology / neuroscience research as it pertained prior to all of this, and experiencing some of these states out of context before I knew to reference buddhism; I'm not familiar with how cessation relates to blips or as knowledgeable with buddhist terminology as most people here, but a black blip looks kind of like fruition of stream-entry as described in this interview with Daniel Ingram.

When looking at the rest of the excerpt in the TMI book, I have an idea how everything fits together now, and it seems to match up with research too, but I'll cross reference with more direct experiences first as I've yet to experience any black blips. I suspect (for me at least) that open eye meditation is part of my process to get there (biofeedback as a guide) since everything starts looking super luminous, my vision softens focus and my body looks like a collage of floating transparent colored circles, I sense I can keep going forward with the experience to the point that everything might disappear and reappear but have yet to try because I haven't syncronized it with a grounded affective experience.

In that sense, the experience of black blips might depend on if someone is focused on some mental object that's non-continuous (lacks reliable continuity) or grounded in some continuously affective emotional experience (accessed without attachment dependency) that can help stitch the experience together more consciously and seamlessly, like feeling love with the heart, or even pain like drinking a glass of water mixed with cayenne pepper. The breath might work for some, but my history with reras doesn't provide confident reliable consistency atm.

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 5:34 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
I remember cessation as a black blip, preceeded by a distinct "thing happening"/buildup in the middle of the brain, and it is very soon followed by a white flash, bliss, relief, and whatnot.
Would you really call it black or are you speaking figuratively? In my experience the blip wasn't black, in the same way that if I look at the edges of my peripheral vision what is around it isn't black, it's nothing.

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 5:44 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
In retrospect, it seems to be at least some truth in what Culadasa said. I have experienced both kinds and it really seems like the difference in the blip is in whether one is looking at objects or at the state of mind - my experience is that when I am zoomed out all the way (Chris - I wouldn't say no object but kind of like an overview of looking at the bigger picture?), the blip is more conscious (everything still falls away) than if I am with objects. It is all looking back at what the mind throwbacks the experience as anyhow. No access to it for months already and could be years till the next - so some folks might want to test this out... emoticon

That could explain my description: All the instances I remember of seeing the black blip I had a very broad focus. Though I can't say that, in those fruitions when I didn't see the black dot, that there was something I could call a blip of any kind. If there is any gap to experience in such fruitions, I didn't notice it, for me it's just build up, release with bliss etc, i.e. I notice it because of the surrounding phenomena.

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 7:18 AM as a reply to Francis.
In that sense, the experience of black blips might depend on if someone is focused on some mental object that's non-continuous (lacks reliable continuity) or grounded in some continuously affective emotional experience (accessed without attachment dependency) that can help stitch the experience together more consciously and seamlessly, like feeling love with the heart, or even pain like drinking a glass of water mixed with cayenne pepper. The breath might work for some, but my history with reras doesn't provide confident reliable consistency atm.

Hi, Francis.

In my experience cessation/fruition is caused in part, if not entirely, by a deeply felt recognition that no object is continuous - they're all impermanent. We slowly gain this recognition - and this likely to be why equanimity preceeds cessation - we're starting to see the process of mind in real time. Once we see and feel it deeply and completely enough (not just intellectualy)... bam! Cessation.

It's likely, too (see Bruno and Yilun's comments), that the nature of the object we've focused on can change the nature and "feel" of the resulting cessation. I seem to have had several kinds over the years, not all the same, and that may indeed be caused by the nature of  the immediately preceeding object focus.

JMHO, of course.


RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 10:16 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Hi Yilun

Thanks for posting. I initially experienced the 'black out' version of a frutiion expeirence for the first couple of years since the first one. But with time I seemed to stop experiencing a complete loss of awarenss and now they show up more in the way Culadasa desribes as a 'pure consciousness experience'. However, I would add that to describe it as pure consiousness implies some sort of object, where as the experience is quite objectless. In fact it seems characterised by a complete lack of any objectifying. 

Talking with fellow practioners, it does seem people can experience these two varieties of cessation outlined by Culadasa. Having experienced both, I think they are pretty much the same in terms of entrance and exit, they just seem to differ in terms of wether there is a complete loss of awareness. Well, having said that, I wonder if the aware cessation experience is easier to prolong. 

I want to put a theory out there about the type of cessation where one remains conscious, albeit of nothing. I am wondering wether it is more useful to the process of full awakening, which I am identifying as the breaking of all 10 fetters. 

The reason I suggest this is that what seems to happen in 'aware' cessation experience is that the whole karmic activity ceases. The birth place of this process seems to be connected with the act of attention. That is, the mind trying to aprehend and land on an object. What I think is happening when we have a black out, is that the mind has atteneded to a sensation carefully, when that sensation ceases, it means the act of attention which is dependent on an object for its existence winks out with it, along with all concsious expeirencing. 

However, in the aware cessation experience, it seems that because the mind is not following an object in the same way, there is not this sudden drop out of awareness, as a sensation ceases. 

It seems in an aware version the attention wave still ceases, but I find this can sometimes be gradual. There is is still the cessation of the karmic process along with attention to any object, but one can remain there without loosing consiousness. In my experience, for far longer. 

I want to suggest that this is very useful in terms of integrating the cessation experience into daily life. Because the black out version is difficult to reconsile with waking experience. You can hardly walk around or go to work while remaining in a black out cessation. But it seems the cessation of karmic processes that can occur, leaving the pure consioucsness expeirence is easier to prolong and hints more clearly at how we could function and move around while experiecing the cessation of dukha. 

If we only define cessation as what happens in a black out, there is a danger this insight is never fully integrated. Or at least thats how it appears to me. It may also explain why repeated cylces and cessation events alone do not seem to bring a 4th path that is a genunie breaking of all 10 fetters, but what folks call technical 4th path. For the breaking of desire and ill will (4&5) it feels like we need to work out how to function from a place of the cessation of our pushing and pulling at our experience (karmic activity). And to do that, we need to work out how to bring our cessation experience in to daily life. Which I think is easier if we can attune to the aware type of cessation. By narrowly defining the cessation experience, we could keep looking in a place that cant deliver the full path.

I hope this makes some sense, I realise it is all work in progress and have not completed this territory by any stretch. Its just some observations and reflections based on my own practice and discussions with friends. 

Barry

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 11:33 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
In my experience cessation/fruition is caused in part, if not entirely, by a deeply felt recognition that no object is continuous - they're all impermanent. We slowly gain this recognition - and this likely to be why equanimity preceeds cessation - we're starting to see the process of mind in real time. Once we see and feel it deeply and completely enough (not just intellectualy)... bam! Cessation.

In my experience an emotional state can be continuous but not neccessarily permanent; although when I did metta practice before I knew what that was, the state was continuous even in and out of sleep for several days, suggesting it's possible for it to become aligned with the circadian rhythm, only the recorded experience seemed impermanent from a particular vantage point. I might modify the plan by getting into the state I referenced earlier and then close my eyes, take a short nap and see what the experience is like when I wake up. If there needs to be a blip, it might as well be a nice long one; thanks for the input.

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 12:02 PM as a reply to Francis.
In my experience an emotional state can be continuous but not neccessarily permanent; although when I did metta practice before I knew what that was, the state was continuous even in and out of sleep for several days, suggesting it's possible for it to become aligned with the circadian rhythm, only the recorded experience seemed impermanent from a particular vantage point.


Francis, I would challenge you to look closer and in smaller increments of time - the smaller the better to see the discontinuities.

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RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 12:36 PM as a reply to Barry D.
If we only define cessation as what happens in a black out, there is a danger this insight is never fully integrated. Or at least thats how it appears to me. It may also explain why repeated cylces and cessation events alone do not seem to bring a 4th path that is a genunie breaking of all 10 fetters, but what folks call technical 4th path. For the breaking of desire and ill will (4&5) it feels like we need to work out how to function from a place of the cessation of our pushing and pulling at our experience (karmic activity). And to do that, we need to work out how to bring our cessation experience in to daily life. Which I think is easier if we can attune to the aware type of cessation. By narrowly defining the cessation experience, we could keep looking in a place that cant deliver the full path.

My take on this, again solely from my experience:

If at 4th path if you haven't broken through to the realization of the impermanence of all objects, self and all others included, then you have not yet found your way to 4th path. The seeing through of the process that causes objects to appear in our experience is the same insight that relieves us of the strain of being dissatisfied with objects - dukkha. By "objects" I'm referring to what we would call "things" (like chairs and motorcycles) as well as thoughts and emotions and including states of consciousness.

If you're aware of anything while "in it" you're not experiencing cessation - you're in some other state. That state which, if thin and ethereal enough, will appear as if it was awareness itself, but you CAN be aware of awareness (that you are having some kind experience) and "awareness" can thus be an object of attention. The issue I have with accepting that state as a cessation is that it we might then compromise and stop exploring, believing we've seen the actual thing, when we actually haven't.



RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 1:34 PM as a reply to Barry D.
Barry your speculations align closely with my own.

I have a tentative description which might explain the difference in the two ways of experiencing cessation. (possibly, I'm in no way sure, it's just a suggestion)

There is in the middle of the head a vibratory phenomenon, which could be described as a "strobing", or "fluttering" or "flickering". It is a bit like this youtube video, but where the tempo is perhaps slightly slower and varies more, i.e. isn't so uniform/constant. To find what I am talking about, you can close your eyes, and look at the center of your forehead, i.e. up and to the center; your eyes will begin shaking at the same rhythm as the phenomenon I am describing. It was made to believe it is particularly evident during the 8th jhana. (in fact this process happens not only in the middle of the head, but that is where it is by far most obvious).

The phenomenology surrounding this process is related to craving / aversion, and all kinds of vibratory phenomena e.g. the breathing wall visual effect is strongly correlated with the rhythm of the strobing phenomenon, in a way that I have come to suspect they have the same underlying cause.

For me, a fruition is something which happens in association with this phenomenon. The strobing stops for a little while, in a very specific special way which I don't know how to describe except that it's a way that I can recognize when fruition happens (this is what I called the "buildup"), and then there is a moment which I would call the moment of cessation, and then the after-effects of cessation.

As far as I can tell, though I could be wrong and missing the full picture, a cessation is precisely a cessation of this strobing phenomenon (though it's not a cessation like you just fixate it or stop it forcefully, it's more like it fades away to nothing), or at least the cessation of something which attention does in relation to this strobing phenomenon (I'm totally not sure here).

If this is correct, then the black cessation / conscious cessation might be simply the result of which side of the strobe is happening when it stops. Indeed the strobe has two sides, a black side and a white side. The black side systematically "covers" the rest of experience, and so I am now speculating that if the strobing stops when you are in the black side, everything appears black, and otherwise not really.

Having had the two kinds of cessation - with black gap, and without black gap - I was generally thinking that when I don't see the black gap, that it was just too quick for me to notice it. But maybe it's something else...?

Sorry for making a contribution with so much speculation and so little certainty, but the above is pretty much along the lines of how I think of cessation, and I am curious if they resonate with what other people are experiencing. Of course it might turn out I am focusing on completely the wrong thing, in relation to this, and please let me know if you think so.

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 1:27 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
If we only define cessation as what happens in a black out, there is a danger this insight is never fully integrated. Or at least thats how it appears to me. It may also explain why repeated cylces and cessation events alone do not seem to bring a 4th path that is a genunie breaking of all 10 fetters, but what folks call technical 4th path. For the breaking of desire and ill will (4&5) it feels like we need to work out how to function from a place of the cessation of our pushing and pulling at our experience (karmic activity). And to do that, we need to work out how to bring our cessation experience in to daily life. Which I think is easier if we can attune to the aware type of cessation. By narrowly defining the cessation experience, we could keep looking in a place that cant deliver the full path.

My take on this, again solely from my experience:

If at 4th path if you haven't broken through to the realization of the impermanence of all objects, self and all others included, then you have not yet found your way to 4th path. The seeing through of the process that causes objects to appear in our experience is the same insight that relieves us of the strain of being dissatisfied with objects - dukkha. By "objects" I'm referring to what we would call "things" (like chairs and motorcycles) as well as thoughts and emotions and including states of consciousness.

If you're aware of anything while "in it" you're not experiencing cessation - you're in some other state. That state which, if thin and ethereal enough, will appear as if it was awareness itself, but you CAN be aware of awareness (that you are having some kind experience) and "awareness" can thus be an object of attention. The issue I have with accepting that state as a cessation is that it we might then compromise and stop exploring, believing we've seen the actual thing, when we actually haven't.




I see why you are saying that, and of course it's important. For a long time I doubted whether I had even experienced cessation, because precisely of the above difference - sometimes I had the same thing happen without any blackout. The entry felt similar, the resulting effects were the same, but it didn't have a blackout, so maybe the one that did have the blackout wasn't it, really.

But you know, with time, and talking to people, not everyone describes all their cessation experiences as having a blackout. For example Nick practiced for a while to prolong the cessation moment while remaining conscious (remember him describing that practice, a few years ago?).

But I am speculating wildly, sorry for that.

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 1:43 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno, I suspect we're both correct. I say that because as I experience these things there are gradations of experience that occur going into and coming out of cessations. I'm trying to make sure we're clear on the language and that we're all using it the same way, which if unclear or not the case gets very confusing. My stake in the ground is simpy this: true cessation requires there to be no consciousness, which requires there to be no object (or vice versa, your call). All the other states that occur surrounding cessations are true, are experienced, are real. They just aren't the cessation itself.

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RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 1:57 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Hi Chris

Thanks for your response (not sure how to use the quote thing, so will just copy it). 

'If at 4th path if you haven't broken through to the realization of the impermanence of all objects, self and all others included, then you have not yet found your way to 4th path. The seeing through of the process that causes objects to appear in our experience is the same insight that relieves us of the strain of being dissatisfied with objects - dukkha. By "objects" I'm referring to what we would call "things" (like chairs and motorcycles) as well as thoughts and emotions and including states of consciousness.'

Agreed, yes, that makes sense. 

'The issue I have with accepting that state as a cessation is that it we might then compromise and stop exploring, believing we've seen the actual thing, when we actually haven't.'

I can really understand the caution here. The great thing about the criteria outlined in MCTB for describing the cessation/frutiion experience is that it is crystal clear. If you hold yourself to that criteria, its much more likely you have attained the real thing. Once you start widening the criteria, its more likely that people having other kinds of expeirence will think they have experienced stream entry or another path when they havent. So I see where you are coming from here. 

However, once one is clear and familar with this, I think its safer to explore the boundaries of possiblities. Having said what I said, I do hold it tentativiely, as I know its not clearly outlined by the Mahasi/Theravada tradition. 

That said, if you speak to serious practioners of Zen or Tibetan schools it seems they have often never even heard of the black out type frution. It does seem particular to the Theravada, particularly as described by the commentator Buddhagosha. Held agaist these criteria many serious practioners from other schools would have to discount their realisations. So its tricky. 

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 2:02 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Your point you make here is a good one. I guess that was why I was hesitant to go along with Culadasas 'pure consciousness experience' term. As it seems to imply consciousnes as a subtle object. Which sounds more like one of the 6th Jhana..maybe. 

Though my experience of a fruition without loss of consciousness is perhaps better seen as having some level of awareness present. But not of anything at all, even consciousness. No object however subtle. 

RE: Cessation with No Blip
Answer
3/8/18 2:16 PM as a reply to Barry D.
Held agaist these criteria many serious practioners from other schools would have to discount their realisations. So its tricky. 


Yes, it's very tricky.

I have a number of friends who are experienced Zen teachers who, when quizzed, will admit to having these same experiences (you can find this documented on the old KFD message board archives - look for Gozen's comments there for the details). But their language and the context of their training precludes them from either paying close enough attention to their experience of these things or to the point of ignoring these kinds of experiences as not worthy of any attention or analysis. We know that what governs our experiences is mind, and we know how malleable mind is when it comes to interpreting things. I doubt that Zen and Vajrayana practitioners have different minds than we poor downtrodden, lesser vehicle Theravans.

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