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TOPIC: Cessation

Cessation 10 Mar 2014 19:36 #18910

I have almost posted this exact thread a few times because I also couldn't find an exact description of what the phenomenon was and a definite answer as to whether there was variation in the experience in one place. Thanks for posting.

I've had the experience of being completely involved in a meditation movie, having an unknown length blackout period when the movie suddenly vanished and then watching my mind thoughts and senses come back from nothing. But Ingram talked about having fruitions (same phenomenon as cessation?) while driving. The experience I had I would NEVER want to experience while driving. I initially dismissed the experience as a curious sleep event and then after several months of getting to the same territory but not reproducing the EXACT experience, I started thinking maybe it was path. The Hamilton Project people also seem to have a rather subtle experience of fruition/cessation as well.

I've had subtler experiences like seeing brief frames of pitch blackness that completely engulf the visual field or take up a tiny piece of it. Also, sometimes images or flashes of black will be accompanied by a kind of warping sensation in the brain. The warping sensation is just like a pleasant or neutral sort of chill/electric sensation that seems to go very quickly from front to back over the brain or possibly encompasses it all at once.

There wasn't anything obvious to me about changes in practice/life immediately after any of those experiences. But if I look at journals, I know I at least get to images/movies territory a lot more often than previously when I had to work for several months to get to that territory. Also, sometimes those events are followed by clear A&P events a few weeks later and sometimes I seem to have more sits in DN territory.

This thread is helping and not helping at the same time. I can't tell if I've even had one cessation or if I have them all the time and don't notice.
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Cessation 10 Mar 2014 21:01 #18913

I'd say all the time. Just a shot from the hip, though.

Ironically, my first cessation that started my side discussion, if it is a cessation, happened.... while [edit]: driving. So it was terrifying in a few ways. :)
Last Edit: 11 Mar 2014 06:08 by shargrol.
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Cessation 11 Mar 2014 10:39 #18920

Ona, perhaps you can recall and link it here: was there not a discussion involving you a long time ago, where you were having cessations but didn't know what they were, and Chris (and others) were helping you diagnose? I recall talking to Chris about it at the LA BG conference as it was happening, so it was back on the old DFRC, but should be archived here.

ETA: Once I narrowed down the timeframe to be concurrent with BG11, I was able to find the thread:

awakenetwork.org/forum/103-general-dharm...sions/3066-fruitions
Last Edit: 11 Mar 2014 10:41 by Tom Otvos.
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Cessation 11 Mar 2014 12:57 #18921

Gracious that's ancient!
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Cessation 11 Mar 2014 13:28 #18923

I'm so glad we don't need to go through that again!

Edit: meant to include this: :cheer:
Last Edit: 11 Mar 2014 19:21 by shargrol.
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Cessation 12 Mar 2014 01:56 #18928

shargrol wrote:
So it could be that the folks that entered the suffering door during SE had the terrifying results. And maybe others had the no-self door which was more pleasant. And maybe many of us had the imperminence door as are second path, which is more dit-dit-GONE. ?

Just a hypothesis, wondering what others think.

www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharm...0The%20Three%20Doors
"The impermanence door aspect relates to realizing what is “between the frames” of the sensate universe (formations), and it tends to have a “dat.dat.dat-(gone)!” quality to it" -MCTB
I was not aware during the initial cessations at path moments. I missed them totally. The fist time I was sick and it may have happened in my sleep or I was just totally out of it until the shift to very very present made me wonder what the heck was up. Makes me wonder about the suffering door...hmmm
I was stuck in review for 2 years after that and called up cessations almost daily as part of my meditation/workout practice at the sauna at the gym. I had hundreds of cessations and some I had the clarity to see the dat.dat.dat-(gone). Second path I was asleep and woke up to the bliss wave. I was like whoa...I think that was a fruition....no follow up cessations. Third path I was sick again....Same as first time did not notice it when it happened but a baseline change. Then two weeks later I got sick again and it deepened. When I say sick I mean the flu where you are flat on your back and it feels like someone is beating you with a baseball bat the first day, second day you feel like you were just beat by a bat and the end of day 3 you can finally get out of bed. Seems like it was the dukkha door for me.
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Cessation 14 Mar 2014 06:48 #18939

I've been puzzled for a year and a half how my practice could be post-stream entry without being able to identify anything like fruitions or blips. It hit me this morning that something I've been thinking of as an "unhinge" moment could contain a gap and the after-effects of those does seem to have something in common with what people say about their post-blip experience. It's fascinating to me that, even though I likely never would have conceptualized the nanas and it took me a long time to map something as standout as A&P to a normal, familiar part of my practice, nevertheless, it does seem like there is some kind of correspondence between this map and terrain, as far as it goes. I guess the fact that it does go that far, and that it only goes so far, are both interesting.
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Cessation 20 Jun 2015 13:14 #99284

I'm sorry if this is repeat material, but I just don't have the time to go through that whole old fruition thread and I really want to get this off my chest.

I first started having a cessation-label provoking experience in Dec 2014. I thought of it as the experience of waking up after having nodded off. I called it 'the jounce'. I'd be in an equanimous drifty space, then in a flash I'd be snapping wide-awake and then remember a sensations of everything collapsing into.... I didn't have any impression of the time in-between collapsing and snap-to except that it was a very short interval, like less than a second. It was mostly all inside my skull. I don't think there was any physical collapse, but the snap-to often accompanied a bit of physical jerk and intake of breath. Things were a bit clearer immediately afterwards, and maybe a bit of clarity when arising after the sit. I really didn't have any reason to think of it as anything different than falling asleep and waking up.

A few months later I started noting clear changes in walking-around experiences: imperturbability, mania, walking bliss, and finally cycling. (that was a few months ago... things are slowly changing now)

Now I have this model for it all, this is really what I was looking for, a place to express it:

I've spent years trying to become more present and responsive to exactly what's happening while having minimal interference from baggage and anticipation, and maximum 'helpful' instincts. This is what led me to Vipassana. Post 'SE', it seems like I've made major progress. It seems like NOW the here-now-equanimous awareness centre of my brain is working 95% of the time instead of 5% of the time. It seems like that part of the brain gets worn out after 5 or 10 hours, it really needs a rest to regroup. Bring myself to equanimity and cessation seems to be the rest it needs. If I didn't do this on the cushion, it automatically happens when I'm falling asleep for a nap or bed time.

This seems so much like a normal waking/sleeping cycle that I feel the two phenomena must be closely related. Obviously most if not all people are capable of this experience. A key factor is being comfortable enough with our life situation that we can give ourselves permission to not freak out about the past or future and put our attention on what's in front of us as opposed to looking over our shoulder or around the corner for something we're afraid of.

This description also make the expression 'awakening' for SE quite appropriate to me.

I'm really curious what others think of this description. You-all can give me a fathers day present; weigh in! :)
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Cessation 20 Jun 2015 17:42 #99285

I relate to a lot of your experience. And I wish there was a lot more research by the "experts" as to whether cessation/fruition equals a brief moment of sleep. My fingers are crossed hoping Jeff Warren might address it in his meditation book.
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Cessation 20 Jun 2015 20:57 #99286

I really didn't have any reason to think of it as anything different than falling asleep and waking up.

I suspect this is different for different people. My first cessation was quite obviously not sleep or anything like it. It was absolutely frightening. It was a quick and total loss of consciousness. Not like falling asleep, more like someone turned off my consciousness power switch. Coming out of it was not like waking up, more like coming back online. The blanking out was preceded by a brief but very vivid image. Now, subsequent cessations have been less dramatic, and I can see why some might say it's sort of like sleep. The difference is that it's obvious to me that there is consciousness, albeit limited, during sleep. But that is not the case during a cessation.

Of course, my opinion is far from being authoritative except as it relates to my personal experience, which is all I have to go on.

Happy Father's Day, from one father to another.
Last Edit: 20 Jun 2015 21:09 by Chris Marti.
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Cessation 20 Jun 2015 22:18 #99287

In my experience there are phases of meditation in which one slips in and out of sleep-like states, and these can coincide with transformative periods where qualities of awakening become more embodied (much as Matthew seems to be describing). They had a distinctive flavor, no dreaming, deep stillness and a sense of rising up out of the depths as it ended naturally, leaving me very relaxed and refreshed. I'd say that such phenomena/experiences are distinct from the kind of phenomena Chris is describing, which also may group around bigger transitions in practice/experience/embodiment.

What one cares to call them is a different story, though in previous conversation I was under the impression the latter is what some Buddhists mean by "fruition" and the former is some kind of altered state, not sure if it has a name.

These days if I doze while in silent prayer (or while napping) I tend to stay conscious/aware, so I'm sort of asleep and awake at the same time.

Anyway, makes for fun adventures in consciousness at times. I don't think these things are nearly as important as they seem when they first arise, really, except in that they might be encouraging, fun, or make good conversation until one loses interest and the next novel phenomenon wanders in and one repeats the process.
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Cessation 23 Jun 2015 08:56 #99324

Here is Mukti (Mrs. Adyashanti) talking about "stopping":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT2P6kByKhI

Beginning at 25'15"

"There's a kind of -- for example, with the question I asked, "What is stillness?" -- that opens one to a sense of stopping, to complete stopping. It seems that the momentum of a lot of conditioning, when it comes to a stop, it actually loses its momentum completely."

Is this what is meant by cessation?
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Cessation 23 Jun 2015 11:24 #99332

Derek wrote:
"There's a kind of -- for example, with the question I asked, "What is stillness?" -- that opens one to a sense of stopping, to complete stopping. It seems that the momentum of a lot of conditioning, when it comes to a stop, it actually loses its momentum completely."

Is this what is meant by cessation?

This is not what I would call a cessation as I would typically talk about it here on AwakeNetwork. For me, the stopping that Mukti is describing is what happens when I rest and just let experience simply be as it is. Experience, whatever it may be, then just arises freely as it is with no interference from me. Actually, even saying that I let experience be is implying that I exert some effort to make it so. That is not the case. Maybe a better way to describe it is that this stopping, this stillness arises when all doing ceases, not when I stop doing.


The cessation that's being referred to above is a short, momentary stopping of all experience. It's much more like a power flicker, where experience just stops, and then at some point starts happening again. Sometimes I feel it as a discontinuity or gap in sensory experience. The before doesn't exactly line up with the after, and so sometimes there a sort of "thump" in the body, and occasionally a pleasurable "bliss wave" a heartbeat or two later. Sometimes it feels like a quick powering down and powering back up. There are some other variations on this as well.

Helpful? Familiar?
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Cessation 02 Jun 2016 02:07 #103514

Just to confuse things a bit I'm staying at Pa Auk Tawya and he says that if Nibbana wasn't an experience then there wasn't enough concentration. Another interesting point is that one of his criteria from switching from access concentration to Jhana is the yogi becomes impervious to dropping into bhavanga citta, which are drop outs that people often mistake for nibbana, apparently. I'm not advanced enough to be able to clarify these from experience though that is the dogma here.
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Cessation 02 Jun 2016 02:35 #103515

"At the upacara samadhi stage, when the Jhana factors are not powerful if the mind is relaxed on the object, whether it is white kasina, bones or 4 elements, he will fall into bhavanga. What will happen if he falls into bhavanga? Some meditators may say that they seem to experience Nibbana because the meditator who falls into bhavanga says that he knows nothing. There is a reason for saying he knows nothing. The bhavanga citta is the citta that takes the object which arises at the time of near-death consciousness, near dying in the past life. It does not take the present object, whether it is white kasina, bones or 4 elements which he is practising now."
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Cessation 02 Jun 2016 04:31 #103516

More:
"The problem of thinking that the attainment of knowing nothing is Nibbana needs perhaps to be explained further: Nibbana is vi-sankhara that is 'without formations'. Formations are mentality-materiality and their causes, and Nibbana is without either of them. The mind that knows Nibbana is called vi-sankhara.gatta.citta. But it is not itself visankhara: the act of seeing Nibbana requires the formation of consciousness. The consciousness that is formed when, for example, a Buddha or Arahant enters the fruition attainment, and sees Nibbana, is the Arahant fruition-consciousness, together with its associated mental factors. If the Arahant fruition consciousness is entered upon from the first Jhana, and is thus a first-jhana Arahant fruition consciousness, there are 37 mental formations. This principle applies in all the other path and fruition knowledges. Together with their associated mental factors, they all take Nibbana as object; and Nibbana has the characteristic of peaceful bliss.

Whenever a noble one enters fruition attainment, she or he knows Nibbana, and with the fruition knowledge enjoys the peaceful bliss that is Nibbana.

It is therefore, impossible to enter one of the fruition attainments and say about it: 'everything stopped: I knew nothing then.' Before entering a fruition attainment, one determines how long it will last, for example one or two hours. And for the duration of that period, Nibbana is known continuously as try peaceful bliss it is.

It is therefore clear that if one knows nothing, it is not because one has attained Nibbana; it is because ones concentration is still weak."

If this is true, and again I have no idea personally, it surely throws a spanner in the works doesn't it? Despite seeming to only be able to talk in erudite scriptural quotations I would thought that he has attained what he teaches. You also have the likes of Shaila Catherine who wrote a whole book about the path here, I'm assuming she wouldn't write about what she hadn't experienced? Which would lend credence to this. Ah well who knows I'll go back to staring at my wobbly nimitta.
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Cessation 02 Jun 2016 06:15 #103517

This is great stuff Joe. I would love to know and understand more.

The concentration level as a determinant of cessation vs dropout makes a lot of sense to me. It also indirectly explains why concentration-free methods of meditation do not seem to result in classic theravadin cessations.
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Cessation 02 Jun 2016 09:44 #103518

Is there anything specific about the method here you want to know more about?

Another big difference is that the nanas are experienced based on 'ultimate reality' which are rupa kalapas (matter) and cittas (indivisible units of consciousness). As an example when I do my 4 elements meditation I can start to break sensations of the body into tiny mini sensations arising and passing away super super fast. It's feels like pins and needles only everywhere. I believe this is the same as dissolution as described in mctb? These I think are kalapas (I haven't been instructed this far yet actually and teacher is away) and the Sayadaw says this:

"You should first discern the four elements, earth, water, fire and wind of individual translucent and untranslucent rupa kalapas. You will find that the rupa kalapas arise and perish very very quickly and will be unable to analyse them, because you still see them as small particles with size. Since you have not yet seen through the three kinds of compactness, you are still in the realm of concepts and have not arrived at ultimate truth".

This is the level of concentration needed! And vipassana (I.e. Discerning 3 characteristics of these phenomena and starting the progress of insight) is only commenced after discerning this level, and bear in mind cittas and cetasikas arise and perish faster.

Another theory I have about Nibbana and experience is that if it is so blissful 'that it makes the jhanas look coarse" (Shaila Catherine) then maybe our nervous system isn't ready yet? At AYPsite and I believe generally in kundalini type yoga there is the idea of pacing and introducing the bliss to the nervous system so it doesn't get fried later.

Here is a quote from another spiritual tradition that seems relevant:
"In most cases where accidental contact with the higher thinking center takes place a man becomes unconscious. The mind refuses to take in the flood of thoughts, emotions, images and ideas which suddenly burst into it. And instead of a vivid thought or a vivid emotion there results, on the contrary, a complete blank, a state of unconsciousness. The memory retains only the first moment when the flood rushed in on the mind and the last moment when the flood was receding and consciousness returned. But even these moments are so full unusual shades and colours that there is nothing with which to compare them among the ordinary sensations of life. This is usually all that remains from so called 'mystical' and 'ecstatic' experiences that causes temporary connection with a higher center. Only very seldom does it happen that has been better prepared succeeds in grasping and remembering something that was felt and understood at the moment of ecstasy" - G.I.Gurdjieff

I've actually experiences on mdma of blacking out but still functioning (I walked down stairs whilst unconscious, somehow) that presumably were caused from the level of bliss, which was so intense.

Is the practise of Jhana a way of prepping the mind/body for this? The level that is demanded here (no thoughts sounds or anything other than Jhana factors and a specific type of nimitta experienced for at least two hours, enterable for any pre-determined amount of time at will)?

Again this is all speculation at this point but tantalising none the less.
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Cessation 02 Jun 2016 09:52 #103519

I'm kinda focusing on this: "If the Arahant fruition consciousness is entered upon from the first Jhana, and is thus a first-jhana Arahant fruition consciousness, there are 37 mental formations."

I don't get the terminology, but it sounds to me like what this is saying is that the nibbana being talked about here isn't cessation, but rather clear perception, maybe a fancy way of describing "suchness" in the first jhana. Does that seem on track or am I totally off base?
Last Edit: 02 Jun 2016 09:53 by shargrol.
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Cessation 02 Jun 2016 09:59 #103520

by the way, it will be interesting to see if your pin-pricks wind up being dissolution. I always associate those with 3 characteristics and early A&P, but when there is a lot of concentration, everything can take on that appearance.
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Cessation 02 Jun 2016 15:48 #103522

JMHO --

There is a ton of confusion in this world around terms like "bliss." I suspect it means many different things in many different contexts. I know it's used to describe fruition, which is not the same thing as cessation. In my experience cessation is the complete shutting down of consciousness. There is, quit literally, nothing without consciousness. There is no sensory processing in cessation. Cessation is not blissful because it's not anything, at all. Fruition, on the other hand, could very easily be described as blissful. It happens, too, to follow closely on the heels of cessation, and I think these two paired but very different things often get confused with each other, especially through the fog of translation.

Again, JMHO.

EDIT: likewise terms like "nibbana."
Last Edit: 02 Jun 2016 16:07 by Chris Marti.
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Cessation 02 Jun 2016 19:56 #103524

shargrol wrote:
I'm kinda focusing on this: "If the Arahant fruition consciousness is entered upon from the first Jhana, and is thus a first-jhana Arahant fruition consciousness, there are 37 mental formations."
Well in Jhana you are taught to take an object, that for anapana starts with the breath and moves to the nimitta you can also do skeleton meditation, 32 parts of the body, repulsiveness e.t.c all up to first Jhana. That is the object then you have mental factors, traditionally in 1st Jhana Piti, sukha, vittaka, vichara and ekagatta but they expounded more in abhidhamma. So that with these factors you have 1st Jhana but the type of 1st Jhana is determined by the object of attention. Fruition consciousness takes Nibbana as the object, as opposed to the breath, he seems to be saying?
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Cessation 03 Jun 2016 06:43 #103532

Fruition consciousness takes Nibbana as the object, as opposed to the breath, he seems to be saying?

Joe, for curiosity's sake can you please ask how these folks perceive nibbana as an object? How does one take it as an object unless one uses the concept of "nibbana" and not the actual occurrence, which is absolutely nothing. A veritable null set.
Last Edit: 03 Jun 2016 06:50 by Chris Marti.
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