A&P & Kundalini-like phenomena

Sean Kerr, modified 10 Years ago.

A&P & Kundalini-like phenomena

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/19/10 Recent Posts
Hello,
I'm writing to seek clarification regarding my practice and in particular the kundalini-like experiences that have been its hallmarks. In MCTB these are associated with the A&P stage of insight. By this is it implied that the "A&P event" IS some variety of kundalini-type experience? or are kundalini-type experiences merely minor events common to this stage of progress?

I've been meditating Vipassana for the past 8 years or so. Looking back, it seems there is a process traced by these experiences. I am hoping someone might shed light on this process: what it means - is it really meaningful? - and if so, then where it is going.

Shortly after taking up the practice (as taught in Goenka/U Ba Khin Vipassana courses), I had a first Kundalini-type experience, in which over a few hours, a painful and undeniable force seemed to force its way upwards. Four years of consistent practice went by in which this experience by no means reproduced itself, so that I even concluded that it had been a fluke experience, unrelated to the practice of insight. But after four years, these kundalini-like experiences suddenly began again, and much more intensely. Each one was initiated by a tight and hot clenching at the base of the spine, that would initiate a 4 hour or so long, initially quite painful, step-like ascending. These were almost invariably preceded by a sharp auditory hallucination - a gunshot, or loud cracking or snapping sound - and characterized by a floodlike gushing forth of defilements from the respective center, which gradually dissipated until it became quite subtle and pure, at which point it would rise a few inches to the next center, which would then spew forth heavy defilements, gradually become subtle, rise to the next area, and so on. This happened on several occasions over 6 months or so, with increasing frequency. Each experience was quite an ordeal. Finally, on a 10-day self-course, these spikes began to occur repeatedly even during Anapana, and as soon as I switched to Vipassana, the "kundalini" clinched at the base of the spine with so much heat and pain, and began to go up, but this time differently: it got associated with the breath, so that each gushing forth of defilement was accompanied by a sharp gasp, even a yell, which was very violent and racked the whole body. I was lucky I was meditating in isolation that course. From that point on, these "kundalini" movements have always been associated with the breath: when defilements flow out, they are accompanied by a sharp exhalation; when the vibrations become subtle and move up, a sucking inhalation. Also from here on, once the movement reached the top of the head, it turned around and came down again, step by step, to the bottom; and then turned and came up; and so on. The rate and ease of the movement increased over the course and the subsequent year or 2, so that now it moves very quickly up and down the spine with little obstruction, just about any time I sit to meditate with a decent degree of purity and concentration. The breaths have likewise become more subtle, so that now they are smooth and not violent, and the body jerking little by little became less pronounced and finally ceased altogether.

I realize that I have come to conceptualize progress in terms of this process: is this an error? It does not seem like insight, and yet seems somehow intimately related to the progress of insight: is it? Where does this ceaseless rising and descending of dissolving impurities conclude? Can the progress of insight be measured by this process?

And finally: is this tendency to solidify a magical ascending snake energy an obstacle to insight? I have come to understand it as a process of dissolution, but perhaps the illusion of a unified energy still lurks in the background of my understanding - since I do still catch myself sometimes thinking in terms of "it" "rising".

Thanks. You input most appreciated!
Sean
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A&P & Kundalini-like phenomena

Posts: 3193 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
S K:
I realize that I have come to conceptualize progress in terms of this process: is this an error? It does not seem like insight, and yet seems somehow intimately related to the progress of insight: is it? Where does this ceaseless rising and descending of dissolving impurities conclude? Can the progress of insight be measured by this process?

And finally: is this tendency to solidify a magical ascending snake energy an obstacle to insight? I have come to understand it as a process of dissolution, but perhaps the illusion of a unified energy still lurks in the background of my understanding - since I do still catch myself sometimes thinking in terms of "it" "rising".


Sounds like the first time was A&P territory, and the second time was also A&P territory. Not everyone has clear A&P Events, but it sounds like the first one probably was, as you know it has happened because the whole thing fades rapidly after it even if one keeps practicing.

Conceptualization of the practice is inevitable. This is what thought does.

Seeing things arise and pass, happen on their own, and noticing the suffering aspect of them is insight. Many reject their own hard-won insights as they didn't like the sensations or qualities they gained insight into or didn't realize that insight is not always fun or pleasant.

As to where does the ceaseless rising and passing of dissolving impurities conclude, this should perhaps be rephrased: all sensations arise and vanish complete, and thus they self-liberate by vanishing utterly.

Progress in insight can be measured in many ways, of which these maps are one.

Kundalini stuff can be fascinating and opinions vary as to the degree to which it should be given a special place or just seen as it is. I favor bare insight practice on the sensations that actually make up your reality, all of them, regardless of what they are, but then it depends on what you want to do. Fascination with meditation side effects and raptures in general causes them to linger and thus slow down progress, at least on a pure insight front.

Daniel
S K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A&P & Kundalini-like phenomena

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/19/10 Recent Posts
Sounds like the first time was A&P territory, and the second time was also A&P territory. Not everyone has clear A&P Events, but it sounds like the first one probably was, as you know it has happened because the whole thing fades rapidly after it even if one keeps practicing.


Okay, Daniel. [Thank you for your response!] A more delicate question, then: If these were both A&P events, then this would imply two separate "cycles" of insight? - implying magga and phala in between? (It seems absurd to ask this question, but I have never discussed these experiences with a teacher, so I really appreciate going into it a little now with you.) So, what started the 2nd "cycle" of kundalini-type experiences was an experience of what I have always considered my one and only experience of "jhana". I have always wondered about this jhanic experience though, because it only occurred once like that, and even with subsequent seemingly very high levels of concentration, has never since repeated that sort of experience. Which was this: I was practicing Anapana, and the concentration suddenly became perfectly stable, and effortless (after several days of strong concentration, the body stiff and upright, and with that "dimming" of bodily sensations that I was experiencing for the first time, that suddenly made it easy to sit even in lotus posture for long periods without difficulty). It was suddenly perfectly easy to keep an iron grasp on the breath without intervening thoughts - this started during discourse, and continued even walking out of the hall and getting a drink of water, and then while going to my cell. In the cell I sat down and the mind stayed right there. The breath became shallower and shallower and shorter and shorter over a 1/2 hour or so maybe, and I stayed right there with it the whole way, amazed at how automatic and easy it had suddenly become. It continued to become subtler and subtler and clearer and clearer, until I felt I might pass out, or die. I remember a strong sense of surrendering to that death, and shortly after that, something tremendous happened, where the mind "zoomed in" like a 100 times at that spot, and some sort of shift in consciousness occurred, accompanied by tremendous bliss, throughout the body. My surprise gave rise to thoughts, but even as the concentration devolved, that sensation lingered... Is this what first jhana feels like? Or was that something else ie is that what sotapatti fruition feels like? It was not many days after this on the same course that the kundalini-type experiences suddenly began again (after that 4-year gap).

Seeing things arise and pass, happen on their own, and noticing the suffering aspect of them is insight. Many reject their own hard-won insights as they didn't like the sensations or qualities they gained insight into or didn't realize that insight is not always fun or pleasant.


The first time it happened I was very much rolling in the experience; the second time(s) were characterized by much greater insight though: the whole process seemed disgusting, unpleasant, and repulsive, even as it unfolded, and awareness of anicca was predominant.

As to where does the ceaseless rising and passing of dissolving impurities conclude, this should perhaps be rephrased: all sensations arise and vanish complete, and thus they self-liberate by vanishing utterly.


Worth meditating on.

Kundalini stuff can be fascinating and opinions vary as to the degree to which it should be given a special place or just seen as it is. I favor bare insight practice on the sensations that actually make up your reality, all of them, regardless of what they are, but then it depends on what you want to do. Fascination with meditation side effects and raptures in general causes them to linger and thus slow down progress, at least on a pure insight front.


Of course I would prefer to "see it as it is"! emoticon The second time in particular was followed by a huge upheaval of "stuff" and ushered in a very dark period in my life, which coincided with a return to US and starting graduate school. I'd like to think there was some insight in that suffering though, and not just blind flailing (which there was undoubtedly a bit of as well!!)

But it's good to clarify that all this stuff falls into the "raptures and side-effects" category.

Thanks for your thoughts on all this, Daniel.
Sean
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A&P & Kundalini-like phenomena

Posts: 3193 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
A few more points,

One should remember the Standard Pattern, which is:

Cross the A&P, usually in daily life, have no idea what it was, some won't even remember it, start getting into something (meditation, religion, veganism, saving the world, yoga, etc.), hit the Dark Night (as the Dark Night follows the A&P like thunder follows lightening and is inevitable at that point), fall back, stop practicing, regress, cross the A&P again, get excited about practice, hit the Dark Night again, stop practicing, fall back, cross the A&P again, etc.

This is repeated again and again, sometimes even at the higher paths above stream entry.

In short, I think you hit the A&P, later on fell back, then crossed into A&P territory again, all working on the same territory.

See this link for my own experiences with this stuff: http://www.interactivebuddha.com/theAandP.shtml

Helpful?

Daniel
S K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A&P & Kundalini-like phenomena

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/19/10 Recent Posts
Yes, thank you.

Every now and then that temptation to seek credentials hidden in my meditative experience raises its ugly head emoticon

It raises another question though: is there a "gold standard" in vibrations? ie, can you discern a puthujana from a sotapanna, from a sakadagami, etc from their vibrations? Can this be discerned with utter clarity at some stage? or does it fail as a standard for some reason? I would never have given credit to your grandiose claims, except for the tremendous vibrations in your book and audio clips, which I found so bewildering. I can only imagine that the precision that would render these stages perfectly distinct and obvious is at some point possible. Is it, in your experience?
S K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A&P & Kundalini-like phenomena

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/19/10 Recent Posts
Thanks and metta
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A&P & Kundalini-like phenomena (Answer)

Posts: 3193 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I have no particular talent for figuring things out based on the feeling I get of others vibrating, if that is what you mean, but I do list various other criteria that I do think apply in trying to figure out who has stream entry, etc, and if you have read the book you should know nearly all of them. Read the relevant chapters and perform the standard tests and see if you got stream entry. Just as a rough standard, about 99% of the emails I get with people asking me to try to answer this question are from people who have crossed the A&P and think that was it.

Glad you like the book and audio clips: they were fun to create.

Daniel
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Mike Kich, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A&P & Kundalini-like phenomena

Posts: 170 Join Date: 9/14/10 Recent Posts
Not as a question but just to try and add to this, I had an experience just this last night of crossing the A+P again (it always happens twice in quick succession and in dreams for some reason) and was very tempted to mistake it for stream entry somehow during the waking state. The fact that a part of my mind was questioning it even as I woke up told me more and more it probably was NOT stream entry, that and the fact that the body-bliss I felt lasted for a while but then began to fade. One odd thing and perhaps something to note is that the last two times this has occurred, it's not marked by lights and such but more like a brief cessation of thought, twice in rapid succession with a small pause between.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A&P & Kundalini-like phenomena

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Like this?

MCTB:
The A&P Event can happen in three basic ways corresponding to the Three Characteristics, just as can the entrance to insight stage fifteen, Fruition, and the two are easily confused for this and other reasons. There is great variation in the specifics of what we are seeing and feeling when we cross this profound and intense event, but certain aspects of these events will be common to all practitioners. This event tends to manifest in a way that can mirror the Three Doors (described below) at about the middle of the out breath, leading to an unknowing event, followed by a few exceedingly clearer and more distinct moments imparting some deep understanding of the Three Characteristics before a second unknowing event at the end of the breath. It is not uncommon for the A&P event to occur during a particularly lucid dream or at least in the middle of the night.
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Mike Kich, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A&P & Kundalini-like phenomena

Posts: 170 Join Date: 9/14/10 Recent Posts
Yup, like that.