Stream Entry

Daemon Lamar Gillis Shockley, modified 1 Year ago at 2/27/22 6:20 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/27/22 6:20 PM

Stream Entry

Posts: 7 Join Date: 11/7/14 Recent Posts
I believe I achieved Stream Entry. Unfortunately, this was years ago, so my memories aren't exactly fresh, and my descriptions of my experiences may be more influenced by what has come up in between. But I'll do my best, and hopefully its enough to get some decent feedback, both on the validity of my assessment, as well as possible next steps. My perspective and practice was primarily inspired by MCTB, so I'll be using that framework and I will not be making any strong judgements as to how that does/does not line up with other Buddhist frames.

My style of practice was not particularly disciplined. I was fascinated, for a while, by the point of view of the Dharma and engaged with it frequently in daily life. Playful engagement with my reality, and testing the Dharma point of view against my reality as experienced were more important for me. I found that the body was one of the easier objects to pay attention to. I did some breath meditation, but had more success with music, as less neutral, more engaging objects were easier to pay attention to consistently. When experimenting with Concentration I would put my attention on the object, but also leave some amount of 'processing' or 'meta-awareness' available to track my overall state. I watched for state shifts, and tried to be mindful of them in even subtle forms. I would compare the states to the descriptions I had available, and see if it fit well enough. It was well enough for me, so I continued to use the frame. To the extent I got jhana, it would be fair to say they were light, or weak, or what have you. Eventually I believe I hit 7th. I'm a bit more sure I hit 6th than 7th. Definitely not 8th. I don't recall when I got to various jhana for the first time, so I'm just covering where I ended up, imo, in the end. 

Insight practice was easier for me, at least once I hit the first few jhana. I would experiment with my reality, pretending all objects were actually holograms. Or that the walls of my hallway ceased to exist as they left my view, paying attention to the edges of my peripheral vision and when things 'dissapeared' there. This was helpful in learning to deconstruct the visual field to some degree, and for a while I would notice visual oddities that my conciousness would have previously ignored or filtered. (At least, that's what I think of them). Sometimes this is like 'seeing snow'. Sometimes it is more like oddly shaped swatches of the visual field 'stand out' a bit. Sometimes it is like the swatches present individually and the perception of a field is more 'seen through'. Hope that makes sense. Sound is harder for me to deconstruct. Physical sensations are easier. I can still see snow, and am doing so now.

Some techniques I would use:
Lookback: If I don't 'see'/recognize a sensation clearly, I'll call up memories, and try to get a look. These memories are assumed to be fallible, but it seeds the ground for me to catch the sensation better next time, as I'll be looking to see if it comes up in a similar way or not next time.
Noticing inattention as unknowing: If I was 'distracted' from an object, engage in lookback and ask myself "In that moment, were sensations for that object present even?". This leads to catching points where there is a lack of sensations due to inattention more regularly in real time.
Seeing inclarity clearly: From an insight perspective, when I say 'the object was unclear', I think its more accurate to say the sensations experienced didn't match my expected sensations, and so I interperted it as 'unclear'. So just try to recognize what is there.
Interest in disinterest: What sensations, and what about sensations is interperted as disinterest?

I would randomly concentrate on screws on bus seats while traveling, etc. I was unemployed, so I could afford to get pretty into this stuff, even in a non-retreat setting. I did sitting practices as well, but definitely tended to jump around from technique to technique. I would note, but eventually I would notice much more often. I'm pretty slow at noting, but I feel I can recognize sensations as sensations pretty ok with raw noticing.

I had an A&P experience where I was pacing (as I'm inclined to do, even before I meditated) around my apartment, watching the walls 'dissapear' at the periphery, chugging from a 2 liter of coke. Eventually, I started to see chairs and other pieces of furniture 'blink' in and out randomly. Pretty neat emoticon

I noticed what I thought was dissolution a few times in daily life. I don't remember the specifics too clearly, but I think there was something to do with time or timing, spacing out and slowing down.

Now to the main event emoticon

One day, I was sitting at home. I hit the A&P and Dissolution. Fear was pretty obvious. It was the sensations of fear, without any real emotional narrative giving it force. It was more like roller coaster fear, because I was excited both to hit a new stage, and to get a chance to examine it for myself. Once again, I was looking for marked state shifts, and checking them somewhat against what I remembered of the stages. This time around, I don't think I had the detailed phenomological descriptions available, but was more like "Yeah, it makes sense to call this Misery/Disgust". Desire for Deliverance and Fear were the most clearly related to their names, Misery and Disgust were more distinct sorts of irritation. Reobservation was a mish mash. I became less 'bothered' by the mishmash, or it got lighter/easier in some way into Low EQ. I stopped sitting, and walked down the hall, transitioning into High EQ. Popped into the shower, and was really into the beauty of the interplay of light and water droplets. There was a very clear, almost isolated moment. The visual field wasn't peculiar, like with the snow and so forth, just still in that moment. And then a 'click' or 'blip' and followed by a reaction throughout my body that was very pleasant and I wanted to dance around. I had read a description of the path by Ronald Crouch, which basically accorded to MCTB's description. Ron, I believe, actually used the term 'click' or 'blip' or something similar to describe fruition. He termed the aftermath as being a 'bliss wave' iirc. The click or blip might also be described like a 'time stutter' but that's a more recent reflection on it.

Afterward, I did not really examine review clearly, didn't go or get repeat fruitions, or do anything else technical to validate my experience. I did notice that neutralish objects like the breath were accessible as concentration objects without trouble, and more neutral objects have the advantage of giving clearer jhana experiences. Then I had other things come up in life, and experimented with moving away a bit from the vipassana perspective. I certainly didn't abandon it, it's been pretty philosophically central for me, but I wasn't engaging with it experientially to the same degree. That's ok, it's about time to come back to it now. Long term positive effect was mainly a loosening of the grip of my Personality. I had long believed that it was possible to change yourself, intellectually, but it's like my _instinct_ for myself as someone who could change... changed. Part of this was just getting to see some negative 'emotions' without the emotional narrative, probably. A big part of what drew me away from Insight was the need to work on Morality, and this newfound _felt_ belief that I could change was helpful. Really helpful.

I did have an experience I thought might be another path later, working from a slightly different framing (Still related, it was Magick influenced stuff, had always been a bit of a Crowley fan, and I liked the Baptist's Head perspective on that by Alan Chapman and Duncan Barford) but I'm pretty sure it was either a review A&P or a second Path A&P. I was in a mental facility at that time, so definitely take me with a grain of salt ;).

I'd love to go for repeat first path fruitions. I think I need to work on my Concentration. More disciplined sitting would probably be great emoticon A retreat would be super useful for that, since I'd have social pressure to help out, but I don't really have that available both because I'm broke, and because I need to focus on things like finding a job to support myself and my fiance. Ultimately, I'd like to proceed toward next Path. (Or I suppose first Path, if I'm way off base somehow).

​​​​​​​Thanks for any advice emoticon
Daemon Lamar Gillis Shockley, modified 1 Year ago at 2/27/22 6:22 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/27/22 6:22 PM

RE: Stream Entry

Posts: 7 Join Date: 11/7/14 Recent Posts
Oh! And formations! I want to get what that's about. And how they relate to 'sensations' and 'sense doors'. For example, I know that Daniel asserts in MCTB that you can't experience sensations from two different fingers simultaneously. What about sensations at different doors? If a formation includes all doors, doesn't that imply simultaneous sensations at different doors, or sensations that participate in multiple doors at once? Also, I'm possibly completely misremembering the concept. I'm slowly rereading MCTB (huzzah, new edition) now.
Daemon Lamar Gillis Shockley, modified 1 Year ago at 2/27/22 6:46 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/27/22 6:46 PM

RE: Stream Entry

Posts: 7 Join Date: 11/7/14 Recent Posts
Oh! I should probably mention that post-"Path" I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I. Seems related because of how post-A&P can be similar. I've since gotten off the Bipolar meds, and seem to be doing fine with that for the last 6-12 months or so. Bipolar is classically supposed to be permanently medicated, I believe. This isn't _super_ relevant, since it has more to do with being post-A&P than post-Stream Entry, but I thought I'd mention it.
Ni Nurta, modified 1 Year ago at 3/2/22 12:30 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/2/22 12:30 PM

RE: Stream Entry

Posts: 1051 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
I know that Daniel asserts in MCTB that you can't experience sensations from two different fingers simultaneously.

If you try to experience two fingers simultaneously you will quickly realize that awareness automatically quickly switches between the two.

Should you be more determined to make it happen and experience them at the same time you will notice mind starts creating third experience from these two fingers, a kind of composite experience. And this is fairly easy to do because it pretty much happens automatically. In fact most of our experiences is made from such composite experiences, even composite experience of composite experiences, may layers of them.

This is relevant because if mind is full of such composite experiences then it makes sense to study them, their qualities and how they work, what they are and what they are not. One observation about them is that they do not contain current state of experiences they are supposedly representing. For example if when practicing creating composite experience from experience of two fingers you subtly change experience of one finger while staying on composite experience then this composite experience won't change. This composite experience is just a copy of experience creates in such a way that for mind it is one experience it can focus on and as a copy it has its own state separate from experiences it represents.

If we have multiple layers of such composite experiences (heck even experience of finger is just bunch of such composite experiences!) which do not have current state then what you might want is:
- ability to find source experiences - in case of practice with fingers it is easy because you started with two fingers so you already found them. In fact having pointers to these experiences (of fingers separately) will make keeping composite experience (of two fingers as one experience) harder. This is not however always the case that we have source experiences. More often than not all you have is composite experience of some kind. At least when analyzing experiences this is the case.
- ability to refresh state of such composite experiences - it is literally not so much refreshing anything but creation of new such experience

Now because this is most favorite topic in these parts 'sense of self' is such composite experience and it is subject to the same limitations and the same skills regarding any arbitrary composite experience apply to it as well. It is feels so stable because it is just a kind of snapshot made from multiple experiences. Should it feel like dukkha it is technically because part of brain which hosts this composite experience got tired and you need to generate new such experience. It gets more tired when such composite experience gets desynchronized with source experiences. This can be confirmed with fingers as well. If composite experience of two finger is being held while state of finger changes (eg. is not longer existing in this way) then having this composite experience is not impossible but it is very tiring.

You can notice that you cannot really refer to experience of fingers through composite experience of two fingers. One more step is needed: finding source experiences. The same is true for any composite experience and this include experience of fingers. If that was to be changed rather than changing experience of finger itself the way to change it is find more basic source experiences and create new experience of finger. Practice-wise one can practice experiencing jhanas in fingers. It won't really be possible for experience of fingers as it is but once source experiences are found we get to very basic experiences for which jhana can easily be experienced, from this new experience of fingers created and from then any composite experience can be recreated and it will feel jhanic. This include sense of self.

Analyzing composite experience of any kind is possible to learn how to get to more basic sensations and it is possible to figure out what kind of basic experiences cause composite experiences to be recreated. Because it is not directly related to sense of self it is much easier to investigate it. Also much safer than trying to have something happen in the whole brain when not having any idea how anything works. Once the knowledge about how these things work and which kind of experiences do what and which give good results it is fairly easy to apply this for whole body/nervous system. All these composite, basic, control, etc. experiences are very characteristic and once they are known it is easy to notice that eg. sense of self is composite experience or that it is not up to date, it will be easy to recreate it or even do without it. At this point either one will be like observing fingers. Having experience where both are experienced as single object is not by itself causing dukkha. What causes dukkha can be easily figured out.

​​​​​​​What I am basically trying to say here is that it is entirely possible to get to enlightenment just by analyzing experience of fingers emoticon
Daemon Lamar Gillis Shockley, modified 1 Year ago at 3/3/22 1:16 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/3/22 1:16 AM

RE: Stream Entry

Posts: 7 Join Date: 11/7/14 Recent Posts
Composite sensations make perfect sense to me. The MCTB text sort of implied (to me) that they were perhaps not "actual" in some sense, and that viewpoint was probably helpful in that it encouraged me to look for the non-composite (or less composed?) sensations, but this viewpoint makes more sense and tracks better to me. 

It really makes sense from the perspective of the brain as a network of neurons, I think. Basically the neuron(s) activated by the two individual inputs (from the nerve from the left and right finger) would probably both be activating some other neuron, which might correlate to a 'composite' sensation.

I also wonder sometimes, if the viewpoint of 'one sensation at a time'. Perhaps when I remember two individual momentary sensations in the past, and I remember them in an order, I am imposing the order after the fact. Because at least sometimes, the brain would be processing the information in parallel.
Ni Nurta, modified 1 Year ago at 3/5/22 4:24 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 3/5/22 4:24 PM

RE: Stream Entry

Posts: 1051 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
If you want to have better mind sructure and be able to process multiple appendages at once you must learn from the best.
8th jhana buddha
Octopus vulgaris

We humans have the so called 'dominant' consciousnesses which makes it seem there is one consciousness in which other consciousnesses arise. When such other consciousness arise they are not creating separate feel for consciousness and whatever they communicate it is part of dominant consciousness.

Octo does without all that noise and has its nervous system mapped directly.

Now go and learn 8th jhana
All jhanas