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Can you diagnose this?
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9/10/18 10:50 AM
Dear People,

my name's Conrad, I'm 25 years old, and have started to meditate in June 2017, after realising that I'm responsible for being able to deal with my emotions and projections onto people, expecially one special someone, I have up to that point heard some things about meditation by Joseph Goldstein on Sam Harris' podcast and read Waking Up by Harris, also I read a book by Ayya Khema, so I think I had a decent idea of what it meant to meditate prior to seriously starting out myself. I also had been a pothead and couch potato and very anxious person for 4 years prior to falling in love with that special someone, who also meditated and did yoga, though she was very unstable in her moods and expression, but she seemed really wise, which added to my irritation and desire to be more equanimous. At the beginning of April I also had an experience, when I saw the child in myself, who just wants to have some mother figure hold his hand and love and support him unconditionally, which sent me into a few very blissful hours with intense bodily sensations and the full-blown and felt epiphany that I need not fear the things I feared, other people, girls, clashing with friends, this gave me intense motivation, which then faded due to me not having some clear idea of what to do.

I also had an experience, where I recognised, that there is some part of "me", which is prior to thought, which doesn't need thought and which generates wisdom and intuitions, I saw this, as I tried to listen to the birds singing in a particularly emotionally calm moment, but thoughts kept distracting me. So then I started to meditate with real committment, and 2 weeks later found myself in a 15-day vipassana retreat in the lineage of Mahasa Sayadaw. It blew many doors open, I realised the 3 characteristics and felt like this was the way forward, the most remarkable moment in my view was the moment my intense aversion to being there just fell away in an instant on maybe the 11th day and easefulness arose and persisted. I also had a moment, which at first I thought nothing much of, in that moment while walking suddenly there was nothing, there was no mind, not even a silent mind, I don't know whether I was just totally spaced out, but I wasn't thinking and I don't know, whether there was any perceptions or consciousness at all at that moment, I suddenly reemerged and wondered, what happened, and let go, could it be I had a cessation event and didn't realise it?

Since then I've meditated on and off with changing intesity, the most was like 3 hours a day for a few weeks, and sometimes half an hour and sometimes not for months, but I kept listening to interviews with some for me unexplicable interest, like I was a sponge, trying to absorb new things in conversations I must have heard 50 times already, and finding new meanings in the words of these people, I didn't really go on noting as much in daily life, but tried to cultivate this mindful recognition of bodily sensations and thoughts and mental energies, without naming them mostly. I have had changing depths of concentration, but was never able to achieve Jhanas, because I really wanted to get them, which barred them as soon as concentration intensified. I have let go of many pathological thought patterns in key instances of clear recognition, I have regressed for weeks into my pothead life and reemerged, I have confronted fears and investigated my inner demons. That's all pretty straight forward to me, even though looking at the 16 stages of insight, I can't map much of anything in my experience, the descriptions don't resonate with me.

So now to the thing which is REALLY interesting to me at the moment, since the beginning of August I've changed my behaviour with no great idea why, I just feel like things are right to do and do them, I somehow cannot not do them, with no giving in to fear or feeling doubt or regret, I tell people, what I really think, without really judging them though and I especially criticised a good friend of mine for being falsely proud and very dismissive towards her true feelings, and hiding her somewhat ugly shadow sides behind her pretty mask, I found some very harsh words for her and I swear, I'm not in love with her or frustrated over any desire for her, except for her to be happier. I sometimes awoke in the recent weeks in the middle of the night, contemplating suffering and patterns of behaviour, it shifted from this friend to neurotic co-workers, my father and mother, and last tuesday I even cried a few tears for the suffering in all the world and all the hatred in society (I live in Germany and there was just an incident with a refugee, right wingers protested, left wingers counter protested, everyone just hates the other side and I saw the self-hatred in many people which gets projected onto the world in this partisan way). Later that day I tried to "kill my ego", after feeling like I had to give up everyone and everything, in meditation I got tired, but remained equanimous, which I've kinda learned, but only by doing a metta meditation I realised the hatred was in myself as well, and let go of it and felt love or at least acceptance not only for the people in my mind, but my mind and perceptions as well. In the evening, I had the thought "the only person I can't love is my dad", he's a stubborn old asshole, I can't talk to him about anything meaningful, but he's got a good core, is just very hurt inside and unable to confront that. Then I went to sleep.
The first concious moment the next morning, I saw two circles, one black, one white I think, overlap perfectly, like an eclipse, in my mind, I termed this my unconcious overlapping with whatever the "other" is. I immediately knew something was weird and felt extremely blissful, I cried and waves of energy moved through my body for 3 hours, I felt love for everything and felt like Jesus, I thought. I also felt like love is the fabric of reality and could somehow imagine how a Buddha could heal everyone in an instant with the power of his love. I also felt the short wish to vanish, like reach Nibbana, which I never felt before. When it faded, I felt horrible, I didn't know what to make of this, but I accepted the impermanence after an hour or so, and then went to the zoo with my mom, really feeling like this world is not real somehow. I termed the experience meeting god afterwards, and I always was an atheist and materialist. I revised that later, which gave me ease. But now I'm way more open to the idea of other planes of existence or something like that, but I remain agnostic. Since that day I have had extreme shifts in mood, but somehow I'm really different, it feels light and like a chord was cut, I have no fear and I don't feel blocked in the same way, I sometimes see everything as objects in consciousness, also the feeling of being someone, which I've seen many times in short, clear moments, now the recognition is more stable, I'm very present at most times, sometimes consiousness is pretty narrow and mindfulness is weak, but it's ok somehow, I don't feel like being able to really make any effort anymore, anyway, it's clear that it's all coming from somewhere else, when there's mindfulness.
I feel like my life is destroyed, but at the same time feel freedom to do anything that feels right, I don't hesitate and have had moments that showed me something is different. I feel like my egoic thoughts have stopped, at least mostly, when one arises, it feels weird, like an intruder or an inherent contradiction or something to be dismissed, sometimes I feel kinda offended by the fact that I have no control, I only really want to know, what happened, and think of the possibilities, I sometimes feel like going insane, I'm not really worried though and consider going on a 10 day retreat later this month to investigate further. I also still have many bad habits, like drinking beer, even though one beer gives me headaches already now, which then later suddenly vanish, and I smoke a lot of tobacco. And I think A LOT about this.

But can you help me understand what exactly happened?
Happy to answer any questions about myself or my experiences.

RE: Can you diagnose this?
Answer
9/10/18 7:02 PM as a reply to Conrad.
This may seem like a funny reply... but I think you described what happened very well. You are on a spiritual journey.

Spiritual journeys can be wornderful or awful, usually a mix of both. All I can say is take your time, continue to do a lot of studying and thinking. There is no rush to figure everything out. Take your time, enjoy and explore the opportunities you have.

Don't burn out from trying too hard.

Don't join a cult.

Have fun.

Be kind.

Best wishes!

RE: Can you diagnose this?
Answer
9/11/18 2:47 PM as a reply to Conrad.
Aight, straight up diagnosis best guesses, realizing that diagnosis by retrospective forum post is not nearly as good as, say, being there as it is unfolding, but you asked for it, you got it.

The first thing in beginning of April with the intense bodily sensation, a few blissful hours, and the epiphanies: that was very likely a stock and standard A&P.

As to the second thing on the Mahasi retreat, very likely has something to do with Equanimity, or at least the factor presenting strongly. Diagnosing cessation/fruition/stream entry requires a lot more details, phenomenology, and the like, as well as repetition, and is a nefarious business over forums, IMHO.

I am not sure what happened map-wise in August, though I see various mixes of elements, A&P, Dark Night, Equanimity, maybe falling back, rising up again, part of what I call the Standard Pattern.

Yeah, I am deeply concerned by what is happening in Germany, America, France, Sweden, Austria, Croatia, Latvia… The list of fascist footholds goes on and on… Profoundly troubling.

May your retreat bring clarity and wisdom about what is going on, and best wishes through all these spiritual growing pains. If you are interested in being connected to other meditators in Germany who are familiar with the range of territory of the path, let me know.

Daniel

RE: Can you diagnose this?
Answer
9/12/18 5:21 AM as a reply to Conrad.
Thanks for sharing this. Best of luck with your practice, Conrad. 

RE: Can you diagnose this?
Answer
9/12/18 3:07 PM as a reply to Conrad.
Do you think that nicotime is affecting your progress? Just curious because I too struggle with the addiction.

RE: Can you diagnose this?
Answer
9/12/18 4:31 PM as a reply to Conrad.
Hi, try to focus on your daily life, go easy. If you see youreslf overthinking and clinnging to these past expirence in a neurotic way just note it "overthinking, wandering etc".

Keep you meditation rutine stable and wait for a few months to see this in retrospective and see if this experiences made some impact in who you are and the way you move in life.

Some expieriences are like fireworks they are fun and profound and have this " wow dude..." is very easy to feel special and want more or get obsesed for what you experienced. Also can create a contrast of what you have been in this specials moments and what you usually are and have this kind of wrong perception that you are not good enough of something like this.

So my adivce, take it easy, go day to day, calm and relax, flow and feel and accept what is happening right now and dont take things very seriusly. Esier said than done emoticon

RE: Can you diagnose this?
Answer
9/14/18 1:32 AM as a reply to Conrad.
Hello Conrad,

not that I can add anything to this discussion, I'd rather like to ask a question:
Where did you go on your Mahasi-Style retreat? I'm from Germany, too, and considering Mahasi-Style noting as my Insight technique of choice. Got no idea though, where to go.
As for your practice: Sounds amazing and promising. Take it easy, keep on practicing, not pushing yourself, not expecting too much, and you'll be just fine.
Don't worry, don't overhthink or overconceptualize things.
Your mind will sort things out by itself without you having to do much.
Wish you all the best.

Florian

Edit: I guess you can forget about my question: just stumbled upon this thread here on DO.