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A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat

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A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Dan Bartlett 3/26/12 1:06 PM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Hokai Sobol 6/24/09 4:53 AM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Jackson Wilshire 6/24/09 7:54 AM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat tarin greco 6/24/09 8:30 AM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Dan Bartlett 6/24/09 9:09 AM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Jackson Wilshire 6/24/09 9:24 AM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Wet Paint 6/24/09 9:43 AM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Wet Paint 6/24/09 9:44 AM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Dan Bartlett 6/24/09 7:24 PM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Wet Paint 6/24/09 11:28 PM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Wet Paint 6/24/09 11:28 PM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Wet Paint 6/24/09 11:52 PM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Wet Paint 6/24/09 11:54 PM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Jackson Wilshire 6/25/09 2:59 AM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Dan Bartlett 6/25/09 10:53 AM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Florian 6/25/09 11:14 PM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Daniel M. Ingram 7/5/09 8:52 PM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Jigme Sengye 3/28/10 3:36 PM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Dan Bartlett 3/28/10 4:02 PM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Tarver  1/16/12 10:14 AM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Daniel M. Ingram 1/16/12 3:21 PM
RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat Dan Bartlett 3/26/12 1:08 PM
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Hi everyone

On Sunday I got back from a 3 week work retreat at the beautiful Gaia House in Devon, UK. I had one goal for my retreat: stream entry. I've written a somewhat detailed and open account of the whole experience, which I hope some people here might benefit from. There are tips and advice littered throughout the post, as well as plenty of mistakes for you to learn from! My practice is based on Daniel's MCTB recommendations and I mostly use the Progress of Insight map to track my progress.

Here's the link: Retreat write-up

Featuring such spiritual classics as:
* DhO/MCTB junkie meets Western Buddhist scene
* how not to use meditation maps
* how to make things difficult for yourself
* and how to perservere through all that and reach your goal!

If anyone wants to say anything, I'll leave it up to them as to whether they reply here or on the blog itself. Replying here will probably be better for discussion.

Solvitur ambulando!
Dan

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/24/09 4:53 AM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Well done! And a fine report too. Seems things *will* be opening up for you in months to come. As they say, keep the eye on the ball.:-)

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/24/09 7:54 AM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Excellent write up, Dan! Thanks for taking the time to do it.

Your "riiiiiiip" description is like something out of a page of my own meditation journal. I remember telling Daniel about it, and how it didn't feel wonderful or give me tons of practice energy right away, and he said something like, "Really? That's weird."

I entered through the suffering door as well. It felt like death (I believe that's how I described the experience when I first posted it here at the DhO. I don't remember which thread it was). The good part is that now I'm not really afraid of death. It really wasn't so bad :-D

Any luck with review fruitions lately?
~Jackson

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/24/09 8:30 AM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
yes, thanks for taking the time to write it, and you're welcome re the retreat guide.

have you considered what that prolonged fizzly shift you wrote about in '11' might have been, btw?

congratulations on success, see what keeps coming, and, as a rewording of hokai's comment.. see if you can take your eye off the ball ;)

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/24/09 9:09 AM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Yeah it was quite death-like. I think a lot of people go through the no-self door the first time which is apparently a little smoother and less wretching. No review pops as of yet. I have no idea where I'm at, which is actually quite fun :-) The only thing I can pick up on at the moment (i.e. last few days) is that things feel soft fine & fast again, A&P/dissolution like.

@Hokai: thanks :-) And thanks for that Essence of Buddhism (Traleg) recommendation a while back, great book.

@Tarin: Heh. I thought it might be the next A&P event, but I really don't know. It definitely stood out as something quite distinct and powerful, not a normal shift. I felt pretty disorientated and destabilised for a while after it happened, all over the place.

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/24/09 9:24 AM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Cool, thanks for commenting back.

It took me two or three days to get my first review fruition, but they came pretty frequently after that as long as I made time for practice. Once I started the next path (about a week later), I didn't get another fruition for about three weeks. The experience can be quite different depending on which door the entry takes place at. As you said, no-self fruitions are quite smooth. If one were looking for a dukkha cessation, they may overlook the no-self variety. The dukkha cessations are the ones that punch you in the gut (so to speak). You can't miss them.

The important thing to remember is to keep practicing, and not to get hung up on this stuff. It sounds like you're approach to practice is quite balanced :-D

The goal is the path, my friend.

~Jackson

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/24/09 9:43 AM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Author: msj123

I skimmed through the account and picked up on the fetter model. I am not commenting on what happened at the retreat, but only discussing this model.

Unlike many on this site, I am a big fan of the four fetter model. However, it must be understood properly. The suttas, in a sense, strike me as chapter headings: a lot of the content has to be filled in with practice. Having said that, a lot of people may them in with stuff and nonsense. But this does not mean they are not true. Personally, I have found the Buddha's teachings to be true in all regards, and see no reason to reject this model.

The most important is stream entry. Once you attain this, it is said you are in the stream on the inevitable course to complete enlightenment. This isn’t to say that one doesn’t get stuck or meander, like a ball in an actual stream might get caught on driftwood. But eventually, you will push through to the end.

What is stream entry? I would say that it is a liberating insight into the nature of self and/or reality. In a way, it is like the snake/rope metaphor. Once you realize the scary snake is only a rope, the delusion is cut through. Never again will the rope look as it did before.

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/24/09 9:44 AM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Author: msj123

Under the sutta definition, it would include breaking through the first three fetters:

1. Belief in an individual self. Just as you know the snake does not exist, you know the individual self does not exist. How? Because you have seen its true nature. This isn’t to say that it won’t cause trouble, but you won’t buy into it like you did before.

2. Belief in rites and rituals. I take an expanded view of rites and ritual: anything that is done mechanically. This could include sitting in meditation without putting in the effort, trying to simply activate a process (magic, kundalini, etc.) that will do the work for you, praying for God to take it all away. It is essentially asking to be saved by an external source. Once you see the truth, this becomes ridiculous. You see these things as like praying for snakes to turn into ropes.

3. Doubt in the teachings. The teachings become clear as a bell. This is the unshakeable realization. Just as you know the rope is a rope. This is not to say that you won’t habitually see ropes as snakes, but you know when you do that what you see is actually a rope. It loses it’s power.
How does this make sense? Because in entering the stream, you gain insight into the "ultimate" nature of self. It is a clear view of the truth, clearer than any sense based experience. It's clarity shatters doubt. The truth reveals the illusion of the self. And the idea that anything else can save you is ridiculous.

It is not mystical, and it is certainly not difficult. Why? Because you're not gaining really gaining anything, you're dropping off the baggage.

Matt

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/24/09 7:24 PM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Hmmm... Well maybe I've missed some. Thinking back there have been a few experiences that I didn't bother to write about; just little glitches, moments where I thought "whoa, I'm here!". Little things like that.

One night I was lead awake and suddenly fell into a lucid dream. In it I was talking to Rob (teacher) when my whole body went weak and I slowly crumpled to the ground. It felt like the death-like entry to a dukkha pop, but I don't remember a cessation. I re-awoke slightly disorientated and 2 minutes later the fire alarm went off (at midnight!) and scared the living daylights out of me. The morning after I did feel a little wired and considered whether it was A&P cycling, but I'm not sure at all.

@msj123: I agree with what you're saying. The lack of belief in an individual self and lack of doubt in the teachings parts I found particularly clear in the days following the fruition, and they're still just as clear now.

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/24/09 11:28 PM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Author: JefeStock

Wow. Now see, this is exactly what I went thru, but I never gave myself credit for stream entry because I didn't exactly feel like I had deep insight from it. It seems like you might have felt something like this at first. At the present moment I cycle through different phases from equanimity to desire for it to end to happiness in a matter of hours or days, but I still never notice a cessation. I can't be sure if I really am cycling through nanas or just mood swings. In fact, I don't really think that ripping _was_ a cessation, because it seemed to happen in time for me. I did have one a&p event recently tho (in the psychic realms, very freaky), so I guess that could have been the a&p for second path right? It happened a few weeks after the ripping moment and it might have taken so long because I haven't been meditating regularly.

I did notice quite randomly one day that I can home in on the present moment and my thoughts will naturally quiet and everything just drops away, but the thing is, I can do this this kind of concentration on the present while acting in everyday life and it doesn't naturally interfere. It's like I'm completely detached and just watching. In fact, I was watching Young's youtube video on the ox pictures and it calls the "catching the ox" stream entry, and the way he describes "riding the ox" is exactly how this feeling is. It's like I'm riding the ox backwards and it takes concentration to keep it. I guess I should start putting effort into staying like this as long as possible now. I've been one lazy guy. emoticon
I've also strangely become interested in ideas like love and how it's the natural human condition just like Dan did.
(cont...)

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/24/09 11:28 PM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Author: JefeStock


I still don't see how I have any new "wisdom" since the ripping event, but that might be because I haven't really meditated steadily since then. I'm still not to sure if I should give myself credit. What do you guys think?

I don't mean to rush in on your parade here, dan. Congrats on the stream entry! Excellent work on your part. Maybe now it's your time to help _me_ out, eh? You've been promoted to teacher!

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/24/09 11:52 PM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Author: JefeStock

Just a couple more notes for you guys:
This is exactly what my "ripping" experience was like: I was in a formation, the strongest one I've even been in, and I actually got there without noticing because I was listening to one of those brainwave entertainment records and I was paying so close attention to the present moment so nothing freaky would happen that when I finally stepped back a bit and looked at where I was I was in the formation. The first thing I noticed was how irritable it was to even think and be aware of it. It seemed like a separate stream of thoughts were just "bubbling" up from nowhere and all the other sensations were completely gone except for a maple leaf shaped sensation of my stomach rising and falling, and it was really that detailed to me. Next I somehow reasoned that I should do vipassana while I was in the formation so I immediately zoned in to the maple leaf imprint on my consciousness and tried to notice impermanence. Almost immediately I noticed myself starting to black out, but it wasn't visually. It was like all of consciousness started to go black and then there was a definite moment for one "vibration" were everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, was almost a metallic black. Then I came back to the world and I became intensely aware and just thinking back really quickly I noticed something between two vibrations. I assumed this whole thing was a Three Door imitation and that what I saw afterwards was one of the impermanence "tat..tat..tat" moments that MTCTB goes over.

(cont...)

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/24/09 11:54 PM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Author: JefeStock

I vaugely got the impression that there were two "tats" before but I wasn't as aware of them as the last one, so they might have not happened. That _might_ have been a cessation. If it was than I really can't blame myself for not noticing them in daily life. I barely even noticed that one and I was in that intense awareness that only happens after something freaky happens to you! Anyway, after this whole thing I was kind of freaked out, so I got up and left the formation and my sense of self came back stronger than usual, which is another reason I had doubts about this. But now that I've read Dan's diary, I'm starting to question it.

Like I've said before, I've gotten an a&p event without dropping back to the 3rd nana or anything, so it could be the second path one. Any words of wisdom would be welcome!!!

p.s. I also vaguely remember reading something about blackout moments in equanimity, which I also thought this could be. I'm not sure now tho.

Edit: wow. this is freaky. I've been thinking about it more and it's occurred to me that I've also just recently been able to reach the jhanac states now even though I tried before the "ripping" event. And since I can get into that state of mind were I'm nothing but observing everything ("i" in this case being synonymous to the present moment) my meditation has gotten better. I still don't know tho. It seems so ordinary to me. Is there some way I can tell without doubt? I hate guessing.

Edit Edit: Also, Whenever I have been meditating vipassana style I've been able to see vibrations in my visual field with very little effort. I couldn't do it before the event. Wow. The more I talk about this the more it points to stream entry. So I also want to ask if anyone else had that one vibration where everything was metallic black?

Thanks! Love you guys emoticon

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/25/09 2:59 AM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
That's good info. For me, the event most characteristic of fruition is the afterglow. There are many little moments of unknowing, or disorienting flashes of light, and other things that happen between the stages of insight. Whether the cessation is clear as a bell or not, the immediate afterglow has a very unique flavor. As you get better at achieving cessation, pay special attention to the flavor of the afterglow. It's really pleasant, so it shouldn't be too difficult :p

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/25/09 10:53 AM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Before I landed stream entry, I remember associating a fruition with some kind of space-like darkness, but it's not like that at all. No color, no nothing. Just entry and then coming to. There are some formless realms where a lot of things seem to disappear and get dark, so be careful.

From what you've written I don't think what you experienced was stream entry, but that's just a guess from your descriptions. When you get it, it's very difficult to doubt it, and certain things definitely change.

My advice is to try and work with the vipassana daily. More sitting is always the way to sort these things out. Good luck!

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
6/25/09 11:14 PM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Oh, well done, Dan!

Great account. I found the "dukkha day" description very striking, and was able to draw quite a few parallels to a recent experience of mine. Thanks a lot for going into so much detail about that.

Cheers!
Florian

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
7/5/09 8:52 PM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
As others have said, very good descriptions and good job, whatever it all was. I hope your work inspires others to do the same.

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
3/28/10 3:36 PM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Dan Bartlett:


Here's the link: http://is.gd/1bZjS


Hi Dan,

As this page isn't online anymore, could you re-post your account here or maybe put it back online somewhere and post a link? Thanks in advance. I look forward to reading it.

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
3/28/10 4:02 PM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
Hi Jigme

Sorry, I'd forgotten about that when I removed my blog.

I've re-uploaded the account here, and have resisted the temptation to edit out the embarrassing stuff!

Hints:
- It was stream entry, although my experience of progress along the paths has been pretty different to how Daniel describes them, particularly with respect to fruitions, cycling and repeat fruitions.
- All the "non-dual" stuff was just the effect of strong sustained concentration, which often leads to unitary states of consciousness.

And here's the account of my first retreat if you wanted some background.

I hope you get something from it. If you have any questions, please ask away.

Dan

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
1/16/12 10:14 AM as a reply to Dan Bartlett.
Dan Bartlett:
I've re-uploaded the account here, and have resisted the temptation to edit out the embarrassing stuff!


Would you be willing to do that one more time? The above link no longer works. Is your account posted elsewhere now?

Thanks!

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
1/16/12 3:21 PM as a reply to Tarver .
Might want to PM (Personal Message, as in Messages tab) Dan as he may not be around much now, not sure.

RE: A detailed account of trying to land first path on a 3 wk work retreat
Answer
3/26/12 1:08 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi everyone - I've updated the link at the start of the thread: Retreat write-up

That will be a permanent link this time, I promise!