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Confusion with the Stages

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Confusion with the Stages
Answer
6/26/08 6:05 AM
Forum: Maps of Meditation

It may be the case that I am having trouble with the maps and seeing their value besides as a helpful indicator of progress or the lack thereof, but I have some questions:

1. Those who aren't stream-enterers will essentially start at zero, though their degree of "samadhi" and conditions may speed them through to their current full capability on the progress of insight? So even though specific phenomena might manifest (e.g., goddamn recurring spontaneous physical movements, unusual energetic phenomena or difficult mind-states) as markers of progress, anyone will slip and slide forwards and backwards in a given sitting, and likewise the stages themselves have a seeming "fractal" or cyclical nature?

2. The way one needs to treat the chosen object varies somewhat in each stage? If I understand, this means to avoid artificially solidifying the pleasant broadness of the first vipassana jhana, avoiding turning the kundalini/rapidity of the second v. jhana into a solid state, and broadening the object in the third?

It may be obvious that I feel like I am playing snakes and ladders here, but I've got a lot of consternation with these issues.

RE: Confusion with the Stages
Answer
12/21/08 6:12 AM as a reply to Nathan I S.
1- thats the way i understand it too.

2- yes. and to avoid spacing out in the fourth.

RE: Confusion with the Stages
Answer
12/22/08 8:09 PM as a reply to Nathan I S.
Hi Nathan,
For the past few weeks, I've had a similar experience of "climbing up the sub-sub-jhanas" from the start during each meditation. I first noticed this after the entire progress was apparently reset about a month ago, when I made some minor changes to my practice, which increased effort and intensity a little.

Question to the DhO at large: Is this "resetting" of the progress, when changes are made to the practice, generally observed? (i.e. not just a quirk in my personal practice of the past few months)? Does this happen on retreat, when learning a new technique or ramping up the effort and intensity of an already familiar technique?

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Confusion with the Stages
Answer
12/23/08 8:16 AM as a reply to Nathan I S.
FWIW when I originally posed this question I was going through a lot of dark night/re-observation phenomena in my diagnosis and to contextualize there should probably be more profanity in the original post.

Florian, I don't know--I haven't been able to practice for more than a few minutes a day if that much recently (it rhymes with "mlients meclared mankruptcy"). I didn't really experience any movements through subjhanas, though i wonder how style of practice effects this. I stick almost exclusively to Than. Bhikkhu / Ajaan Lee anapanasati. I do recall, however, going through a lot of Three Characteristics / A&P phenomena and no matter which technique (save walking) I employed the exact same side-effects (and presumable progress) was taking place.

w/r/t spacing out in the fourth, isn't the fourth about space and a broad acceptance and examing that? that's what I could gather by a few energy releases i experienced a few months ago.

RE: Confusion with the Stages
Answer
12/28/08 3:03 AM as a reply to Nathan I S.
nathan,

as far as i understand it, navigating the fourth is about fine tuning the mind's balance and noticing the tendency to zone out in the space and open-ness that's naturally there. a teacher of mine gave the example once of someone standing waist deep in the sea resting his palms on the water, being sensitive enough to the ebb and flow (the rising and falling water levels) to keep his palms perfectly atop the surface, neither losing contact with the surface nor sinking in and getting the back of his hand wet.

--

florian,

good question. i've experienced some of that myself and don't know what to make of it. i wonder how much any of us would be wondering about this stuff though, if ingram hadn't talked about it in his book? sub-sub-sub...

tarin

RE: Confusion with the Stages
Answer
12/29/08 10:38 AM as a reply to Nathan I S.
In my experience progress is at the same time important and tremendously difficult, almost pointless, to measure. Important because I want to have markers and my mind wants to think I'm attaining something while I do all this work. Pointless because progress is so very difficult to measure over short intervals of time, and by that I mean anything less than three to six months, maybe even years. My practice has never been exactly like what anyone else describes here or in books I've read, and it seems to me that since practice is so irrevocably tied to who "I" am that sort of makes sense. I've learned that much of what I experience is very subtle and sometimes not recognizable for a very long time. Just when I think I've made progress I seem to backslide, then "advance" a bit more, the backslide again.

It's been my opinion since finding it that this site is very valuable, not so much as a way to measure my exact progress but rather as a way to help me realize that my practice is wholly dependent on me and me alone, and to enable communications with my fellow, and similarly often confused, beings. I get very confused about progress a lot of the time for various reasons, ego being a very powerful one, so I try hard not to get carried away with measuring because it can distract me from my actual practice.

And that is probably a whole lot of nothing.