Understanding Equanimity, Formations & Drop-outs to get Stream Entry?

thumbnail
Zyndo Zyhion, modified 11 Years ago at 9/2/10 10:50 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 1:50 AM

Understanding Equanimity, Formations & Drop-outs to get Stream Entry?

Posts: 168 Join Date: 8/6/10 Recent Posts
Hi, One and All, a pre-thank you for advice & insight given on the topic stated.

Just went back and looked at the entry in MCTB, on Equanimity, there are a few points of clarification that I would like, as I am planning on doing a three month retreat in Lambini or Malaysia, and plan to prepare well for getting stream entry.

Are Equanimity & High Equanimity both levels within the 11th Vipassana Jhnana and High Equanimity, a deeper experience of that Equanimity associated with the 11th Vipassana Jhnana?

Or are they merely the same?

Can you have High Equanimity without Formations?

How do you describe Formation what kind of ranges of experience do they encompass?


Many years ago (maybe over 8 years ago), while doing a Goenka retreat, I had a very strong experience, not the kind you forget. Retrospectively it fits the Equanimity bill. But there are aspects to that experience that I would like to clarify, that maybe, are evident of a formation styled experience and/or a formless realm experience, but definitely I believe, a nothing but vibrations experience as referred to below.
Reality can now be perceived with great breadth, precision, and clarity, and soon with no special effort. This is called “High Equanimity.” For those with strong concentration and technique, vibrations may become predominant, and reality may become nothing but vibrations. Vibrating formless realms may even arise, with no discernible image of the body being present at all. It may feel like reality is trying to synchronise with itself...and mental and physical phenomena may appear nearly indistinguishably as just vibrations of suchness, sometimes referred to as “formations.”

Referring to the quote above from MCTB: I was in deep equanimity, there was a 'dissolution' in the Goenka sense of the word, no unpleasant sensations, my experience was nothing but subtle, soft, fast or humming vibration like the sound of a bee. I could perceive that, this was an experience, and could shift out of that mode and become aware of my body again, either by opening my eyes and focusing on the physical or with my eyes closed extending my awareness to the physical aspect of my body while still staying with the vibration experience. I was curious about how and where my body existed within the frame work of this encompassing vibratorary experience that sort of dissolved the experience of the body.
So I believe this was definitely 'a reality can become nothing but vibration' styled experience.

But is that a vibrating formless realm and if not what is a vibrating formless realm?

In this quote from MCTB, there is a correlation between formations and High Equanimity.
I am going to define formations as the primary experience of insight meditation when one is solidly in the fourth vipassana jhana, the eleventh ñana, High Equanimity...


I realise formations have associations with suchness and no self and am inclined to think it possible they can occur without these fancy vibration experiences, but not sure because this quote seems to suggest otherwise?

This is most of the stuff on formations in MCTB, I am going to continue to describe and clarify my experience which I think was a formation. Because if this experience is the kind of thing that I should be experiencing in high equanimity (that will provide the readiness of stream entry), then I need to confirm the relevance of this experience or redefine my understanding of formations.
# When the fourth vipassana jhana is first attained, subtle mental sensations might again “split off” from “this side,” much as in the way of the Knowledge of Mind and Body, but with the Three Characteristics of phenomena and the space they are a part of being breathtakingly clear. Until mental and physical sensations fully synchronize on “that side,” there can be a bit of a “tri-ality,” in which there is the sense of the observer “on this side,” and nearly the whole of body and mind as two fluxing entities “over there.” As mental phenomena and physical phenomena gradually integrate with the sense of luminous space, this experientially begs the question, “What is observing formations?” at a level that is way beyond just talking about it.
# Formations are so inclusive that they viscerally demonstrate what is pointed to by the concept of “no-self” in a way that no other mode of experiencing reality can. As formations become predominant, we are faced first with the question of which side of the dualistic split we are on and then with the question of what is watching what earlier appeared to be both sides. Just keep investigating in a natural and matter-of-fact way. Let this profound dance unfold. If you have gotten to this point, you are extraordinarily close and need to do very little but relax and be gently curious about your experience.
# When experienced at very high levels of concentration, formations lose the sense that they were even formed of experiences from distinguishable sense doors. This is hard to describe, but one might try such nebulous phrases as “waves of suchness,” or “primal, undifferentiated experience.” This is largely an artifact of experiencing formations high up in the by products of the fourth vipassana jhana, i.e. the first three formless realms.


"As stated 'fourth vipassana jhana' is first attained, subtle mental sensations might again 'split off' from 'this side'
there can be a bit of a 'tri-ality,' in which there is the sense of the observer 'on this side,' and nearly the whole of body and mind as two fluxing entities 'over there'."
In this experience that I'm describing, there was this primal, undifferentiated experience or wave of suchness, I was really feeling the 'Being'. That "Awareness' was non-conceptually aware of this voice of my subconscious-or conceptual mind, crapping on which was distant small and quiet, but there was no real location though it was still within the field of my awareness, which was expansive or spacious.
But when you look at that spaciousness carefully, it can appear small and contained, or if you sink into it can feel at though it reaches without edge and boarder.
"Formations are so inclusive that they viscerally demonstrate what is pointed to by the concept of “no-self” in a way that no other mode of experiencing reality can"
This passage relates to what I mean by 'being' and how I understand it generally and in relation to this experience.

So in conclusion the experience was defined by 'Being' or Suchness, Vibrations and Spaciousness/Formlessness.RE: link to the reformed slacker's guide to stream entry
1/13/10 3:54 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
I ask that because it seems (just reading the threads here and in KFD) that before Stream Entry a lot of things could go unnoticed (lower nanas 1-3, A&P Event, even Fruitions).


I'm confused, I thought fruitions were that disappearing thing that happens at stream entry and the follow stages up to arharatship ? Someone else said something along the line of what your saying, Could someone clarify.

RE: Questions for the Stream Enterers
2/10/10 6:20 PM as a reply to Pavel O..

2) have you had repeat fruitions since? - either on or off the cushion?

Yes. Right after the first time I had a period of a week where I was reviewing everything. Especially how I did it. How I got there. It was very automatic. I discovered I could control the cycles and will myself to have a fruition. I could also call up a fruituion that seems independent of a cycle. One method which I learnt from Kenneth Folk, is the eye lid flicker. You observe the sensations of flickering and the pay attention to the last flicker when the sensation ends. Then a fruition occurs.

I also discovered there are three doors to the fruition. These are the three characteristics. So depending on which characteristic you are observing in a phenomena of the body or mind then that characteristic will influence the way you enter the fruition. The dukkha one was like the one I explained above. It was the last characteristic which was dwelled on. It is like a slight pulling up on the crown and then cessation and then release and bliss wave. The annica one for me more like the term "conk out" There is a slight build up of sensations ont he crown and then cessation and the head jerks slightly. Theses days it is smoother but was really obvious when it first happened. The anatta one is smoother and sometimes I miss it. These days they are much smoother experiences and sometimes if I am not paying attention, I miss them only realizing that it happened because of the bliss wave after.

If I observed the touch of breath on the nostrils for example and was aware of the anicca charactersitic of the sensations there, when it ended I would get an anicca door fruition. if I was observing the anatta charactersitic of a phenomena I would get a fruition through that door and the same for the dukkha door.

Initially the cycles occurred quite a lot during the couple of weeks after it happened maybe 5 to 20 per day and sometimes more. Now they are slow moving and sometimes I don't get a fruition for days. I think this maybe because I am passed the review phase and moving to the next path. But I can call up a fruition through the ways i described above which seem independent of a cycle. There seem to be cycles within cycle within cycles and it gets hard to describe.


MCTB 12. Conformity

This is why understanding things just as they are is so important. This stage lasts only one moment and never arises again until one attains the next stage of enlightenment. The same is true of the next two stages. Stages twelve to fourteen (Conformity, Change of Lineage, and Path) also share the fact that they represent the three moments of the first entrance to transcendent ultimate reality (stage fifteen, Fruition) through one of the Three Doors. In subsequent attainments of Fruition at that path (during the stage of Review), the three moments before Fruition are not called Conformity, Change of Lineage and Path. These three stages will get extensive treatment in the chapter on The Three Doors.


I thought fruitions were that disappearing thing that happens at stream entry and the following stages up to arharatship ?
thumbnail
Zyndo Zyhion, modified 11 Years ago at 9/10/10 5:17 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/29/10 7:25 AM

Understanding Equanimity, Formations & Drop-outs to get Stream Entry

Posts: 168 Join Date: 8/6/10 Recent Posts
yes I can. Note the stopping, note the silence, not the space, note the intuition to expand it, note the background tension, just keep going, letting whatever happens happen while remaining persistent and consistent. Oh, it may help to poke around and see if you can find a fascination with this part of the process, and if so, note that too.

I consider desire for deliverance to be a point where formations become evident, because of something Dan (Ingram) pointed me to, a passage in the Visudhimagga that groups nanas 9-11 (desire for deliv, reobservation, and equanimity) together (also see mtcb chapter 26, under the section 'inklings of one more model'), as well as Mahasi writing (in 'practical insight meditation') about how formations are perceived in reobservation, just not clearly. This led me to take a better look (after I already had solid mastery of the cycles) at how the transition into the late dark night happens and I saw it for myself. Practically speaking, how this is useful is in understanding how a serious practitioner falling back from equanimity can still practice *as if in equanimity* - that is, by investigating the entire formation at once. Doing so (investigating the entire formation at once, including its deeply visceral aspects) will produce good results whether or not one is technically in equanimity regarding formations, so long as one is close enough. And anyone who's hitting that territory regularly clearly is.
Tarin Greco RE: Serious, down to earth practice questions. 9/7/09 2:05 PM


Here are a bunch of things people said around the site about the fruition moment. For those a bit curious and seeking some clarification.
Yes, equanimity has a few sub-stages as far as my experience of it goes. The "low vs. high" equanimity model is a bit crude, or maybe that's just because with us, off retreat, the unfolding is so slow that we blow every single little energy release out of proportion emoticon

That "Here / Over There" thing keeps happening here, too. There's a weird, very unaesthetic, oozing, grinding, slipping event every time the here/there thing keels over.

On the energy release front - quite a lot of eyelid tremors during meditation, and a strong sense of having a gyroscope embedded in my head behind the eyebrows. Probably related to the concentration.

Lube: yeah! Definitely! Cultivating the 4th Jhana also gives me something to *do*, a bit of progress to make, while watching the ripening process. And Kenneth claims that familiarity with 4J is useful later on, after first path, for exploring the Pure Land Jhanas. Just the thing to get a map geek interested. ;)
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?
4/4/09 2:35 AM Florian

A few months later I started noticing an odd phenomena. At first I thought it was me being startled or falling a sleep and jerking awake but it wasn't that. It didn't happen when I was really sleepy. It seemed to happen when my attention was soft and there was no efforting or grasping. Often, it would come just as a very light dreamy state fell over me. Now I didn't notice the entrance to the event because I only seemed to get it when I was spaced out and not looking for it. But what I did notice was a sense of reality or consciousness re-engaging. I wasn't seeing reality drop out directly but it was obvious that there was a drop out when reality would come back in. I began to suspect these were review fruitions. I spoke with Kenneth, relayed my possible stream entry story and these weird moments of reality re-engaging itself and he seemed pretty convinced that I had experienced stream entry and was having review fruitions.
RE: End of 8 month sabbatical 9/19/09 10:21 AM Lee G Moore

A few months later I started noticing an odd phenomena. At first I thought it was me being startled or falling a sleep and jerking awake but it wasn't that. It didn't happen when I was really sleepy. It seemed to happen when my attention was soft and there was no efforting or grasping. Often, it would come just as a very light dreamy state fell over me. Now I didn't notice the entrance to the event because I only seemed to get it when I was spaced out and not looking for it. But what I did notice was a sense of reality or consciousness re-engaging. I wasn't seeing reality drop out directly but it was obvious that there was a drop out when reality would come back in.

I think I know exactly what you mean. I've got it a few times whilst just lying down or resting outside of formal sitting, with very loose awareness. Then out of nowhere there's a sudden jerking awake, sometimes with a loud click or some kind of "impact" and then I'm back. It's happened on a few different occasions, sometimes two clicks quite close together. It's really made me jump once or twice. I have had more subtle winking outs, but I couldn't miss the clicking ones!

Up to now I wasn't sure what these were but I guess they could be review fruitions. I haven't experienced them in a while.
Dan Bartlett

I had a strange experience which I described in my diary as moving from Here to Over there. All the sudden I lost my center point and felt almost the opposite of what I usually am. It felt like moving from form, to awareness of all the "outlines" of reality. Of course I got over-excited (and confused) and there was no collapse/integration of Here and There. Apparently this can happen a few times before the Real Deal collapse, fruition.
Dan Bartlett

While walking down a path from the meditation center to the dining hall – I (there was still an “I” perceiving things) saw Sean – my “self” – from a perspective that included not only the “inside” of Sean’s experience, but also much else. I’m inclined to describe it in spatial terms though that's really a metaphor for whatever the relationship was between Sean and the viewer, as there was a clear separation between the perceiver and all that was going on in Sean’s mind and in the earth/space around him, but it wasn’t what I understand “out-of-body” experiences to usually entail. (Note: I know next to nothing about OBEs.) At any rate, all of Sean’s karmic twistings and twinings and their accompanying sufferings were there in that seeing, but it was like seeing Sean’s experience through some much more wider and more knowing mind’s eye than Sean’s. Then, like other experiences, it passed, and I went and ate breakfast. The retreat ended, and I returned to my daily sitting practice...
Then there was a brief sense of spatial distance (a bit like the prior experience at Spirit Rock from the year prior) increasing from the self that was Sean…Then nothing.
12/12/09 10:17 PM Sean Lindsay

Man, reading your descriptions is like reading a chapter out of my own life. I got so excited by the 'moving from here to over there' phenomenon that I stopped practicing and thought it was stream entry! I wrote Daniel an email, and he quickly pointed out where I was mistaken, but told me I was probably close. My first fruition occurred a week or two after that.
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? 4/4/09 8:17 AM Jackson Wilshire

I think that the concentration vs insight debates can be more integrated. I remember getting to places where I was able to feel wave after wave of pure suchness trying to synchronize, with very strong concentration, moment after moment, staying on reality like glue, riding wave after wave, feeling the tension as The Prisoner recommends, looking at the Three Characteristics but at the 4th jhana formation level of integrated waves of sensations, with a very powerful mix of concentration and insight, those fused so that the goal of momentary concentration was well actualized. Nothing seemed to get by and everything seemed to be noticed as it was with its true nature well attended to, like the power of the A&P but done panoramically.

It was not actually this phase that got stream entry, but I feel that it set things up well so that, once I got to the next stage, that of not even really practicing but yet being present in some natural way, stream entry was well supported. Curiously, for me stream entry arose after that in a place where I was really contemplating on how subject and object can be one, how awareness and manifestation could be one, and those things, and through this natural, almost daydream-like inquiry, I entered through the no-self door. This reminds me of what Yabaxoule does in some ways: a very hyper-engaged questioning of how the dharma theory aligns with experience and reality. Food for thought, anyway.
RE: Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path? 4/6/09 12:41 AM Daniel Ingram
thumbnail
Florian, modified 11 Years ago at 8/31/10 4:51 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/31/10 4:51 AM

RE: How will understanding Formations get me Stream Entry?

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
neem nyima:
Are Equanimity & High Equanimity both levels within the 11th Vipassana Jhnana and High Equanimity, a deeper experience of that Equanimity associated with the 11th Vipassana Jhnana?


These two are finer distinctions within 11th ñana, also called "equanimity regarding formations". See my other post about the maps and models.

Or are they merely the same?


There are differences, but they are more obvious looking back, to me, at least.

Can you have High Equanimity without Formations?


Well, ... you can be in high equanimity and not notice them, I'd say.

How do you describe Formation what kind of ranges of experience do they encompass?


They encompass everything, even sense of distance, orientation, space, in a fused but not stuck-together, not back-to-back, but spacious way. Since they include everything, don't expect to be able to look "at" them somehow, they include the looking.

A couple poetic descriptions: "a package of experience", "back and forth in the spacious field of experience".

Don't chase after them - they are there anyway, and include your chasing, they are your chasing, in a way; your job is just to get enough clarity to notice that. Pump up the mindfulness, concentrate your behind off. It's what you notice about experience, not the specifics of experience, that makes all the difference. Whether you nitice it about formations or about some less refined experience doesn't matter a bit.

But is that a vibrating formless realm and if not what is a vibrating formless realm?


Formless: the sensations that tell you your body is there are weak or unnoticeable. Jhanas beyond 4th, for example, or even deep 4th, when the body sensations seem "numb" to the point of not noticing them any more.

I realise formations have associations with suchness and no self and am inclined to think it possible they can occur without these fancy vibration experiences, but not sure because this quote seems to suggest otherwise?


The way I understand that, and that is probably not what Daniel had in mind, as his descriptions come from very powerful clarity under retreat conditions, the "vibrations of suchness" are that highly ordinary sense of wandering focus, that rapidly sampling thing which continually needs to verify whether the world is still there, but experienced with great clarity and the detachment of high equanimity.

Just my take. I'm curious what you'll make of it, under retreat conditions.

I thought fruitions were that disappearing thing that happens at stream entry and the following stages up to arharatship ?


Sure, that's how they can be experienced, with sufficiently high clarity, mindfulness, and concentration. But much more relevant, in my opinion, is what they do, what they produce, namely liberating insight. And that is integrated, discovered, understood in a much more gradual fashion. If you read accounts of enlightenment experiences, regardless whether they are stream entry or higher paths or some other model, people often remark how it took them some time to figure out what happened.

Cheers,
Florian
thumbnail
Zyndo Zyhion, modified 11 Years ago at 2/17/11 7:45 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/31/10 12:27 PM

Understanding Equanimity, Formations & Drop-outs to get Stream Ent

Posts: 168 Join Date: 8/6/10 Recent Posts
Awesome brother, this stuff will keep me on track, read the link to, good stuff.

Don't chase after them - they are there anyway, and include your chasing, they are your chasing, in a way; your job is just to get enough clarity to notice that. Pump up the mindfulness, concentrate your behind off. It's what you notice about experience, not the specifics of experience, that makes all the difference. Whether you nitice it about formations or about some less refined experience doesn't matter a bit.

Duly notes.

Just trying to get my head around what the "formations are", cause they were in the book and also understand fruition, just so I'm certain not to convince my self I've got it before I have. Got my head around that formations aren't that important, and they're pretty broad and ambiguous. Which form the sound of thing I may not even recognise it, unless I'm particularly good at insight or concentration or something.

My general impression so far has been consolidate equanimity as my centre of gravity, and wait, now its sort of consolidate high equanimity as my centre of gravity and wait-oka place to wait in choiceless awareness.

I understand, understanding formations will not get me stream entry.

So this next bit is sort of me working out or attempting to answer a question that I've been a bit unclear on, which is also sort of relevant to u.

These two are finer distinctions within 11th ñana, also called "equanimity regarding formations"
First, two more technical terms: "cutting edge", and "centre of gravity". The cutting edge is the most advanced nana/jhana you have accessed. The centre of gravity is somewhat behind that, where "you" are most of the time. This is where the "early" and "mature" sub-nanas can be understood on the map: "early" a&p, for example, is when you can get there (cutting edge advances into A&P/second Jhana), "mature a&p" is when your centre of gravity is squarely in there. this applies to later stages, too; and this is where the nana vs. jhana distinction comes in handy: jhanas are fairly stable, places where the centre of gravity can "come to rest". Thus, A&P and Dissolution and Equanimity have "early" and "mature" stages, because they correspond to second, third, and fourth jhana; while the Dark Night has no such resting place, being composed entirely of unstable nanas. (To be really geeky, the third jhana can also be understood to span all of the dark night)...
Okay, but one day, the centre of gravity sticks in early equanimity, cutting edge advances, and one fine day, they both end up in high equanimity, and eventually, the thing pops, stream entry, bingo.
Florian said.

In the quote above is a key point were we see a reference to "cutting edge", and "centre of gravity" when referring to equanimity regarding formations.

Here a few points I am unclear about, which maybe Florian will help clarify.

Is 'Equanimity Regarding Formations' synonymous with high equanimity? When someone says 'equanimity regarding formations' are they merely referring to 11th ñana, which is sometime called high equanimity to distinguish it from the equanimity that is present throughout the Rupa Jhana's?

It seem Equanimity can mean different things in different contexts depending on what the person is talking about. Such as Equanimity can refer to the rupa jhanas as is shown below, also the 11th ñana.
'Equanimity Regarding Formations' can be described, as high and low equanimity when referring to the idea of, "cutting edge", and "centre of gravity" or equanimity is the "cutting edge" and high equanimity "centre of gravity".

Or maybe there are no real subdivision within 'Equanimity Regarding Formations' (11 Vipassana jhana) no high and low equanimity. It is one state (that manifests many different experiences, formless realms amongst them) and the subdivision is not in the state, but it is how it is experienced as one's 'centre of gravity' or as ones 'cutting edge’ that defines it?

The Rupa Jhanas
There are four stages of deep collectedness which are called the Rupa Jhana (Fine-material Jhana):

1. First Jhana - In the first jhana there is "directed thought, evaluation, rapture, pleasure, unification of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity & attention"
2. Second Jhana - In the second jhana there is "internal assurance, rapture, pleasure, unification of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity & attention."
3. Third Jhana - In the third jhana, there is "equanimity-pleasure, unification of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity & attention"
4. Fourth Jhana - In the fourth jhana there is "a feeling of equanimity, neither pleasure nor pain; an unconcern due to serenity of awareness; unification of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity & attention".[10]
just added to show the equanimity aspect of jhana.

I forgot about this, it sort of answers alot of the questions I've been asking, anyway this is for those of you as confused as I am.

Low Equanimity: Intensity; moderate. Spatial quality; open. Clarity; high. Vibratory quality; chunky, increasing, full wave obvious. Vedana; mildly bad and good. Typical physical manifestations; mild pain when sitting. Typical mental manifestations; confidence returning, weight has lifted, "in the pocket", odd mystical ways of looking at world. Basic insight; realisation can be attained, formations become obvious, begin to include full field of experience, name and form as integrated experience. Basic flaws; mind still speeding up, synchronising, and recovering.

Equanimity-Early Mastery: Intensity; moderate. Spatial quality; panoramic. Clarity; very high. Vibratory quality; very clear, formations, clearer. Vedana; good. Typical physical manifestations; prolonged sitting easy. Typical mental manifestations; mild fear of madness and death, anticipation, joy. Basic insight; realisation is imminent, the true nature of formations becomes obvious, Basic flaws; anticipation, over-confidence.

Equanimity-High Mastery: Intensity; low. Spatial quality; panoramic. Clarity; very high. Vibratory quality; broad, harmonics, formations. Vedana; great. Typical physical manifestations; feel great and healthy naturally.
Typical mental manifestations; great mastery, natural confidence, ease and bliss, "Near Misses", formless realms Basic insight; mastery of seeing the true nature of formations. Basic flaws;still holding back, centre still seems to be that which masters.

High Equanimity: Intensity; low. Spatial quality; panoramic. Clarity; near perfect. Vibratory quality; ariable. Vedana; peaceful, ordinary. Typical physical manifestations; none obvious. Typical mental manifestations; boredom, forgetfulness, balance, Deep Wisdom seems very natural and ordinary. Basic insight; attachment to mastery vanishes, effort to attain or do vanishes, it all happens by itself. Basic flaws; very few.
this stuff is from "nana jhanas & path"

Breadcrumb