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TOPIC: dropouts vs. cessations

dropouts vs. cessations 19 Jul 2015 18:32 #99692

Chris asked about what a "dropout" was and how they are different from a cessation.

The best way I can describe it is the bandwidth of attention turns off, but not the entire mind. So tones might be constant but a break in the sound will be "heard". Or thinking will be happening and will be a noticeable gap in it. It's basically like nodding off to sleep, but with the mind still on line. There is a sense of experience dropping away and coming back. It's usually not as much of a jump-cut as a cessation, although it can be almost indistinguishable .

This is one of those things that has to be figured out in context. A cessation will have a much more significant sense of bliss or clarity. If it is a path moment, then review cycling and access to jhanas will improve afterwards.

For what it's worth, once I was talking with a long-time teacher/ex-monk and trying to describe what a "near miss" before stream entry was. But what can you say, it's like a path moment cessation, except not. :)

What are other's experiences?
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dropouts vs. cessations 19 Jul 2015 18:53 #99693

What are cessations like? A gap in all the four foundations at once?
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dropouts vs. cessations 20 Jul 2015 09:21 #99704

That sounds like a good way to describe it. Here's Ron's take on it: alohadharma.com/2011/06/29/cessation/

His entire description of the path is very good.
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dropouts vs. cessations 20 Jul 2015 09:50 #99706

My experience with dropouts as opposed to cessations was that I knew that they had happened. Afterward, there was a vague sense that time had passed, and that time had been passing during the experience. It felt a lot more like dipping into unconsciousness or maybe a short instant of sleep.

The cessation was a complete stop of everything. Afterward, depending on the length of the outage, the flow of experience had a discontinuity. That's what was noticeable--the sharp change in before and after. Occasionally there was a noticeable entrance and exit, but in between, nothing. No experience, no time, and no way of knowing anything between the before and after.
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dropouts vs. cessations 20 Jul 2015 11:15 #99709

My experience with dropouts as opposed to cessations was that I knew that they had happened. Afterward, there was a vague sense that time had passed, and that time had been passing during the experience. It felt a lot more like dipping into unconsciousness or maybe a short instant of sleep.


Thanks. That's the comparative analysis I was asking for. Unconsciousness versus no consciousness. So then the "dropout" offers no window into non-preception.
Last Edit: 20 Jul 2015 11:17 by Chris Marti.
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dropouts vs. cessations 20 Jul 2015 14:24 #99715

Chris Marti wrote:
Thanks. That's the comparative analysis I was asking for. Unconsciousness versus no consciousness. So then the "dropout" offers no window into non-perception.

Agreed. However, the subtleties of what was still present during dropouts did not really begin to become apparent until after Stream Entry.
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dropouts vs. cessations 20 Jul 2015 15:06 #99716

What were the subtleties, Andy?

I read through Ron's blog post about this and I can see how he's describing what I'm guessing are these "dropouts" but he is not using that terminology. His description is very, very close to what I experienced at first path cessation, with the moment before cessation being very obvious:

According to the theory, just before the moment of the leap into Nirvana, the mind shifts from being trapped in illusions to being in full conformity with reality. This is called adaptation here, and is also called “conformity” in some commentaries. It represents the first moment of being fully awake, and Mahasi Sayadaw describes it as the “end of the purification by knowledge.” In other words, the mind now has enough insight to let go completely and make the leap into Nirvana.

Immediately following adaptation comes the stage of maturity, which is when the mind “falls for the first time” into Nirvana. This stage is the perception, however brief, of a moment when the cessation was beginning. This can be very hard to pick up and may not become clear even after it has happened.
Last Edit: 20 Jul 2015 15:12 by Chris Marti.
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dropouts vs. cessations 20 Jul 2015 17:26 #99719

Chris Marti wrote:
What were the subtleties, Andy?

I started getting the first hints that that awareness could be present even though the objects of awareness were fading during the dropout. This knowing grew more obvious eventually. At the time (after Stream Entry), though, I was pretty focused on cessations, and didn't really pay attention to this other thing because it didn't seem important.
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dropouts vs. cessations 20 Jul 2015 18:54 #99721

I question whether or not there is awareness inside the blackness of the cessation itself. I suspect the mind can easily be convinced there is as it tries to maintain the continuity of consciousness, as it so loves to do and almost always can. But my experience of the no thing part of a cessation is, quite literally, absolutely nothing.

Wow, this is really deep Theravada stuff, huh? :P
Last Edit: 20 Jul 2015 19:03 by Chris Marti.
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dropouts vs. cessations 20 Jul 2015 19:36 #99723

I was kinda holding back, but I agree Chris. To me there is NOTHING in a cessation. I could never prove it, of course. But my hunch is part of the freedom that "flavors" the mind after a cessation is the sense that everything disappears for a moment, what a relief! :)

Because I'm totally goth, I sometimes ponder what would happen if someone completely annilated my body in the midst of a cessation. My guess is that I would be GONE COMPLETELY FOREVER. (Which is the only time I will use all caps on this board. :p)
Last Edit: 20 Jul 2015 19:37 by shargrol.
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dropouts vs. cessations 20 Jul 2015 19:44 #99725

Yes, shargol, I agree. When the subject and object disappear there's just... nothing. That's the Big Lesson, IMHO. No subject and no object equals purely, totally, nothing. Consciousness requires subject and object. Awareness is equivalent to consciousness. No consciousness, no awareness.

what a relief!

Yes! And I suspect that's because consciousness also requires suffering, or at minimum some tiny amount of dissatisfaction. Relief from the never-ending work required of the relative world.

That is my experience.
Last Edit: 20 Jul 2015 19:48 by Chris Marti.
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dropouts vs. cessations 20 Jul 2015 19:50 #99726

or, in other words, dualism is a bitch tough stuff (ugh, I can't swear for long)

(which is the only time I will use profanity on this board :p)
Last Edit: 20 Jul 2015 19:52 by shargrol.
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dropouts vs. cessations 20 Jul 2015 19:58 #99727

Do you, like me, find it weird that this is not the lesson generally drawn from stream entry? Instead teachers tend to talk about fetters and more paths and stuff, when the real import is like, "Holy Bags of Nothing, Batman! There's actually no me, no it. Ultimately there's no here here!"
Last Edit: 24 Jul 2015 08:15 by Chris Marti.
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dropouts vs. cessations 20 Jul 2015 20:20 #99728

Yes. To me the simplest description of the four paths is on first path you get slapped with nothing and then the rest of the paths are all about reconciling that with something. When something and nothing are seen as two sides of the same coin which really has no sides, your done. Not quite what Buddha would say, but that's the simplest way of saying it to me.

To elaborate:
Second path is about getting slapped again even after getting a taste of formless realms. Third path is about the dawning realization that something and nothing aren't incompatable (which could be a long discovery). Fourth is just this (which is both more complex and simpler than those words).
Last Edit: 20 Jul 2015 20:22 by shargrol.
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dropouts vs. cessations 21 Jul 2015 08:19 #99733

Well said!
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dropouts vs. cessations 22 Jul 2015 11:07 #99744

Hmm what an interesting 'fine point' discussion :)

So, here's a data point from someone whose main sympathies are not with the Therevada paradigm.

On the something/nothing front, I'd say that the compatibility of them --- (or maybe rather, since we're putting fine points on things, the fact that they are mere conceptual extremes and 'reality' is somehow suspended between those extremes) --- is something that was included in my earliest insights, so it's not something that everyone comes to after a long process of formal meditation.

Cessation:
During the time when I was practicing in a more Therevada format there was a spell where I was quite fascinated by cessation. I always was left with the impression that it was almost analogous to falling asleep, but 'falling' in the opposite direction. Falling up into some kind of super-intense energy-field, like falling up into a super-awakeness. There is clearly a complete inability of the brain to make sense of whatever is 'in' the cessation, and clearly there is no memory laid into mind 'in' the cessation. But can we conclude from that that there is truly 'nothing' in the cessation? I'm not sure. All I can conclude is that cessation is an event in the stream of consciousness that apparently leaves literally no impression on mind-- no memory trace whatsoever, unlike sleep.

Also unlike sleep, emerging from (and going into) cessation tends to be marked by intense clarity and awakeness. So if falling asleep is a process of the senses and mind fading into vagueness and disarray and unconsciousness, cessation is like falling 'up' into hyperawakeness that is so intense no sense can be made of it and no impression can be taken from it. Something about going into this hyper-intense cessation, while leaving no impression on mind that could later be accessed as a memory, yet seems to transform mind on a deep level-- as if it is dissolving some deep impressions of duality that were subconsciously pervasively active in the perceptual system prior to cessation. So after experiencing cessation 'nonduality' is much closer to obvious in the daily life continuum, and mind is altogether more flexible, as if deep implicit constraints that had been pervasively operative are suddenly (post path) no longer (as) operative.

One last note: I find that it is not enough to simply observe experience in order to go into cessation. Some part of my mind must be buying into a view that all experience is, indeed, on some level, dukha. That view combined with an ever-refined and ever-more-inclusive, spontaneous mindfulness seems to lead to cessation, which is indeed experienced as a relief or escape from some kind of fundamental dissatisfaction with the *mere fact* of something happening.

I think it's important to be critical about the 'truth' of the bolded portion of the previous paragraph! I also have experiences in which there appears to be no suffering for a moment, and yet, life is completely present. This suggests to me if nothing else that 'view' has an incredibly important relationship with 'practice' and 'fruit'.
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dropouts vs. cessations 22 Jul 2015 12:11 #99746

Interesting. I find it hard to call any experience with awareness still in it a cessation (I would tend to map those to A&P, high EQ, and formless realm states), but I do agree that the significance of cessation disappears over time. At first it's an amazing experience that triggers a lot of insights... but ultimately it is what it is. I do agree that one of the triggers of a cessation is a recognition of the tension of being an observer. When that overlooked tension is included in awareness, there is a strange sense of tri-vision (some kind of awareness that sees both the object and the observer) and that collapses into a cessation. I think it would be difficult to trigger a cessation while in a mahamudra or non-dual state or rigpa-like state for exactly the reason you mention -- there isn't much or any of that self/observer dukka-tension there. :)
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dropouts vs. cessations 22 Jul 2015 16:12 #99747

I can add this tiny two cent contribution: in my experience observation (aka consciousness, or even awareness) is dukkha. It's not necessarily strong suffering, but it is on some level, albeit very very subdues, dukkha. It requires effort and the manufacture of a subject/object duality, if nothing else.

A more material contribution from this observer would be that there really is no perception inside an actual cessation. The mind seems to want to hold onto something, for sure, and there is the idea that such a thing (actual nothing) is not possible, so the mind seems to fabricate a continuity that upon careful observation does not actually exist.

Again, all this is my experience and observation. YMMV.
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dropouts vs. cessations 22 Jul 2015 16:18 #99748

@ Shargrol: Right, but what precipitates a 'nondual' fruition-- a glimpse of rigpa or whatever-- is often (for me anyhow) an acute awareness of that tension inherent in dualism. This is something Namkhai Norbu talks about, investigating dualistic tension, relaxing dualistic tension (tension inherent in believing in an observer-observed duality). So what's the difference in set up ;) ?

Also to be clear-- because I'm not sure if it was clear based on your first sentence-- I have no idea what is 'in' a cessation, or whether anything is 'in' a cessation-- I think by definition, no one does. The word 'awareness' has lots of connotations but many of them include a directionality (aware-of) which is why I used the word 'awakeness' to describe what I intuitively suspect is 'in' a cessation, because it doesn't have that directional connotation as much, it is more 360 degrees. I'm trying to articulate that it seems more like an infinitely intense nothing than an infinitesimal nothing, if that makes sense, something that our minds simply cannot process into an experience or form a memory of, unlike sleep, which we can spontaneously experience and remember or even learn to experience and remember consciously.
Last Edit: 22 Jul 2015 16:20 by Jake St. Onge.
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dropouts vs. cessations 22 Jul 2015 16:22 #99749

Chris Marti wrote:
there is the idea that such a thing (actual nothing) is not possible, .

Chris, out of curiosity, have you ever had an experience that you would describe as seeing that the supposed things of everyday life-- thoughts, feelings, perceptions, things in the world-- are 'actually nothing' even while they still appear?

ETA: my description above is most definitely a reconstruction after the fact, not a report of 'the experience of cessation', as indeed I agree, phenomenally, cessation is precisely the opposite of phenomena ;) Phenomenally, it is literally nothing.
Last Edit: 22 Jul 2015 16:25 by Jake St. Onge.
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dropouts vs. cessations 22 Jul 2015 16:35 #99750

Yes, Jake, I have had that experience. My observation of that experience is that there is still a subject/object duality, though very subtle. I have also had experiences wherein I would say that the totality of experience, the entire sense field, is the object.

And yes, for all I know the entire universe and millions of other universes are present "in" a cessation. But because there is no perception "there", I would never know it.
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dropouts vs. cessations 22 Jul 2015 16:52 #99751

Jake St. Onge wrote:
@ Shargrol: Right, but what precipitates a 'nondual' fruition-- a glimpse of rigpa or whatever-- is often (for me anyhow) an acute awareness of that tension inherent in dualism. This is something Namkhai Norbu talks about, investigating dualistic tension, relaxing dualistic tension (tension inherent in believing in an observer-observed duality). So what's the difference in set up ;) ?

My guess is that pretty much every "state" of mind is a form of a "natural protection" action by the mind. Ignorances, cessations, and even rigpa itself. The long term trend is less and less dualistic tension, a progression from ignorances to cessations and then to glimpse of rigpa as a state, then rigpa as a non-state.
Also to be clear-- because I'm not sure if it was clear based on your first sentence-- I have no idea what is 'in' a cessation, or whether anything is 'in' a cessation-- I think by definition, no one does. The word 'awareness' has lots of connotations but many of them include a directionality (aware-of) which is why I used the word 'awakeness' to describe what I intuitively suspect is 'in' a cessation, because it doesn't have that directional connotation as much, it is more 360 degrees. I'm trying to articulate that it seems more like an infinitely intense nothing than an infinitesimal nothing, if that makes sense, something that our minds simply cannot process into an experience or form a memory of, unlike sleep, which we can spontaneously experience and remember or even learn to experience and remember consciously.

I have to admit I'm confused by the quote above...so that probably means I'm missing what you feel is important to point out. On the surface I don't get the distinction between an infinite or infinitesimal nothing (dimentionality of nothing?) but I suspect that's not the important thing you are trying to point out.
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dropouts vs. cessations 22 Jul 2015 17:23 #99752

www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharm...MCTB+The+Three+Doors
For those working on the higher paths, reflecting on the ways that the few moments before fruition have presented themselves can be very interesting and helpful. For those working on the last stage of awakening, I offer the following advice. The special ways that the doors can present can seem to imply the following: That there is a link between some special and intelligent spot on that side and some “transcendent this” that is unfindable. This is implied by the definable qualities of that spot and certain subtle sensations implying space. That there is some space around space, some transcendent super-space around the universe that we may try to rest in or imagine is here. This is implied by sensations with definable qualities. That there is some void-like potential that creates all of this and to which all of this returns. This is implied by sensations with specific and definable qualities.

Seeing that these qualities that seemed to imply something very special are actually just more qualities that we have misinterpreted as being a potential refuge reveals the refugeless refuge. Reflecting and investigating in this way, the last illusions may fall away and we may attain to the complete elimination of all fundamental illusions, or at least the next level of the fractal.

This passage mystified me at first but makes sense in my experience now.

Did anyone here attain to what they identified as 4th by investigating these "sensations with specific and definable qualities"?
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dropouts vs. cessations 22 Jul 2015 19:50 #99754

That's the flavor of 3rd to 4th. More and more aspects of what is assumed as proof of self is seen as sensations/objects within experience. Even the biggies like space, intelligence, void. So that's the domain of the game, the place to look. It's tricky though because investigating these sensations essentially creates an identity around those sensations, the sensations of investigating or knowing. But it's like swirling the drain, you get closer and closer... and then there is moment when it's like hearing one hand clapping: there is just experience and it doesn't imply an observer or self. That's it. It's over, Experience is just experience. The compelling searching is seen as just some sensations of compelling searching that had us beguiled, believing it. Life is just this. Sensations/experience continue but the assumption of self is seen through. Even sensations/experience of self don't imply a real independent self anymore. Hope that helps.
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dropouts vs. cessations 23 Jul 2015 08:44 #99762

Well done!
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