Struggling through, slogging through, second and early third path. Lots of odd visual and auditory stuff showing up. Trying to lead a somewhat normal home and working life while being dragged through the practice by unseen tidal forces.
Sep 20 2009, 8:56 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 20 2009, 8:56 PM EDT
Hi Everyone, I though it would be nice to supply some more context, so here is an excerpt from an email exchange Chris and I had yesterday:
Kenneth wrote: "You are moving really fast now. In fact, you are in free fall. You are getting enlightened faster than your ability to come to terms with it emotionally and rationally. This is normal. Everything will eventually feel right again once you have time to integrate your insight. When you first realize you are in free fall, it's scary because you are used to thinking that whenever you fall you eventually hit the ground. But in this case there is no ground. You'll just keep falling and you'll never hit the ground because there's no ground. You'll get used to living in free fall and it will be wonderful. If there is a trick to integration, it's to avoid drawing conclusions. Every conclusion you draw just creates pain when it turns out not be true and your world is wrenched away again. When things seem empty, just behave as though they were real. This will prevent you from doing things that come back to bite you later. The truth is probably closer to "things are neither real nor not-real." But karma will continue to operate no matter what we think, so it's important to pretend that things are real. As for awareness, it's a never-ending exploration. If you look for it, it disappears. If you allow yourself to be it, it will never abandon you. And it's always empty. It doesn't care what we think about it, anyway. The fact that your sleep is changing shows how deep you are going, so it's no surprise that you are having some trouble coming to terms with your new understanding. See if you can cultivate patience on a geological time scale and let this unfold at its own pace."
Chris, it's also valuable to see this from a developmental perspective. What you are describing is dissolution, as experienced in the "dukkha ñanas," numbers 6-10. In this phase, thoughts and sensations disappear as soon as they appear. It's extremely unsettling, to say the least, and the experience is very real. It feels as though it will always be this way (it won't) and the yogi in this phase is likely to feel convinced that this way of seeing things is more accurate or true than what he has previously seen. In fact, this perspective is phase-specific and lasts only until the yogi moves out of this phase and into the next, which is equanimity. The energy shooting up your spine is related to the 4th ñana, the Arising and Passing Away of Phenomena. You have to pass through the 4th ñana each day (or many times a day) on your way to the 6th-10th ñanas, so it's normal to experience both the energy surges and the dissolution on any given day. What this means is that you have completed the review phase of the previous Path (probably 1st) and are well into a new Progress of Insight (probably the 2nd). Interestingly, this kind of mechanistic talk is exactly what a yogi in dissolution does not want to hear, as it is so clear to him that there is nothing predictable about enlightenment. This too is predictable, however annoying. :-)
Practical tip: Spend a few minutes each day swinging and twisting your body gently from side to side while standing upright. This helps the energy to align itself within the body and develop the new "psychic circuitry" that is part and parcel of attaining the next Path. Hatha yoga, brisk walking, and stretching are also good.
Sep 21 2009, 8:15 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 21 2009, 8:15 AM EDT
Sep 21 2009, 8:35 AM EDT
Wait - there's more I should say -- Kenneth, first, it's marvelous to have access to someone like you who is willing to spend so much time helping others. Second, it's marvelous to have someone who knows this territory so well put what seems like chaos into perspective. It's comforting and smoothes the path. Finally, I need the exercise ;-)
Sep 21 2009, 4:21 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 21 2009, 4:21 PM EDT
"Practical tip: Spend a few minutes each day swinging and twisting your body gently from side to side while standing upright. This helps the energy to align itself within the body and develop the new "psychic circuitry" that is part and parcel of attaining the next Path. Hatha yoga, brisk walking, and stretching are also good." Kenneth made an excellent point regarding working with the energy flow. In addition to his suggestions, Tai Chi or Qigong can be beneficial in aligning the energy. There's some qigong methods that are easy to learn and do not require much practice time. Also, breath work is really helpful (yoga - Pranayama). Here are a few websites that offer some good info:
The above youtube video is demonstrated by Jesse Tsao. He has a wonderful selection of Tai Chi & Qigong videos on his profile page:
Here's written instructions for The Eight Brocades exercise:
Sep 21 2009, 7:15 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 21 2009, 7:15 PM EDT
You're very welcome! I hope you find the info to be helpful and useful. Let me know if you have any questions regarding any of the referred to practices.
Sep 22 2009, 3:52 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 22 2009, 3:52 AM EDT
Thanks Khara. When I was in Beijing, we also practice a form of sitting eight brocades qi gong before and after sitting meditation. Beside Harada Roshi, Japanese Zen masters don't speak much about kundalini events, even less about stages on the way to cessation. However, this subject has always been addressed by Chinese teachers. Here is a link where you may download Master Hua's "Chan Handbook" (Master Hua was a student of the famous Xu Yun):
As you will see (pages 48-50), Asanga's "Heat - Summit - Patience - First in the World" model is still used to explain the energy process taking place during Zen practice. This model also matches that stages of insight: Heat (1-3 ñanas) - Summit (A&P) - Patience (Dark Night) - First in the World (Fruition phase) Those who have been told that Jhanas are seductive and dangerous will be surprised to see (page 86) that the frist four Jhanas (in solid form here) have always been an integral part of Ch'an training.
Sep 22 2009, 8:06 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 22 2009, 8:06 AM EDT
Thanks, Alex. That looks very interesting. I'll be on several long plane flights for the remainder of this week so I'll download that and some of the material Khara linked. Then, I will read it all after I meditate while sitting in my window seat.
Sep 22 2009, 1:19 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 22 2009, 1:19 PM EDT
"Beside Harada Roshi, Japanese Zen masters don't speak much about kundalini events, even less about stages on the way to cessation. However, this subject has always been addressed by Chinese teachers." Thanks for the download. Interesting all the bit about demons - that has a bit of personal relevance and is helpful for understanding my own early experiences which had elements of kundalini and an encounter with a malevolent entity. "Better to postpone enlightenment for a thousand lifetimes than to be possessed by a demon for a single day." Interestingly this happened with Buddha and Jesus as well.
Sep 22 2009, 2:53 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 22 2009, 2:53 PM EDT
Yes, I have head many similar stories. It seems to be related to the awakening of the Svadhisthana Chakra, at least according to Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama (the parapsychologist and kundanlini yoga expert. I see it as the excessive bleeding of raw sexual energy attracting starving malevolent entities. Things get even worse when the yogi also develops astral vision and is able to see and hear these spirits. My Indian yoga teacher told me that he saw a few cases of scary possessions and poltergeists taking place as a result of kundalini practice. The shatkarmas (yoga purification) is normally sufficient to solve these problems. In China and Japan I was surprised to see that Zen priests use banishing rituals in the form of mudras, mantras and visualizations apparently borrowed from Shingon. Not surprising considering that their main source of income is funeral ceremonies.
Sep 22 2009, 6:00 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 22 2009, 6:00 PM EDT
"Yes, I have head many similar stories. It seems to be related to the awakening of the Svadhisthana Chakra, at least according to Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama (the parapsychologist and kundanlini yoga expert. I see it as the excessive bleeding of raw sexual energy attracting starving malevolent entities. Things get even worse when the yogi also develops astral vision and is able to see and hear these spirits. My Indian yoga teacher told me that he saw a few cases of scary possessions and poltergeists taking place as a result of kundalini practice. The shatkarmas (yoga purification) is normally sufficient to solve these problems. In China and Japan I was surprised to see that Zen priests use banishing rituals in the form of mudras, mantras and visualizations apparently borrowed from Shingon. Not surprising considering that their main source of income is funeral ceremonies."
I'm going to create another thread to discuss this, as no one has been able to talk about that with me before.
Sep 26 2009, 1:04 PM EDT
Update, long overdue: I have a lot to say and it will take more than one post. I don't want to bore people, so I'll do my best to be brief.
1) I've been having a rough time lately, and in several ways. My practice has seemed chaotic, purposeless, directionless. I seemed to be getting nowhere, and fast. My outlook has been sour, and my demeanor to those around me less than stellar. I took this up with Kenneth, who has told me to develop patience, get used to the hell I seem to be in and practice samatha above all else. I have been doing all those things this week as I traveled, and I remain very high on the practice of practicing while riding on airplanes.
2) I've been experiencing a much more active sleep. I can recall every damned thing that goes on while sleeping, and I seem to have an odd "sleep but not asleep" thing happening. I have extraordinarily vivid dreams and in most of them I'm able to alter the appearance of things and change the flow of events. When I dream I'm almost always lucid. I wake up a lot at night, which now means I get up out of bed with a lot of energy. A stretch, a walk, petting the cats and the dog, looking in on the kids, all of that helps me slow down and get back to bed.
3) I now have a view that mind is like those huge multi-channel processors astronomers use to listen for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. Mind seems to be a vast number of simultaneous channels within which stuff/life takes place. Awareness is the bringing of any one channel to the foreground. This does not change the background. It all goes on, in parallel, all the time, involuntarily. Waking or sleeping. Aware or not aware. Each channel is it's own awareness and has it's own consciousness. The appearance of being in a theater and having these things taking place on a central stage still exists, but the mechanism is now very clear to me.
4) Practice itself is different. Intent has become a major part of it. When I sit I make a little pact with myself about where I a want to "go" and damned if that doesn't make that thing happen. That said, and somehow related, it has become obvious to me that I don't make decisions. I never have. If I try to find that place, that time, at which a decision was actually made by "someone," it cannot be found. I can't find a decision maker and I can't find the decision point. So much for free will. It's a vast cosmic joke that I ever thought I actually did make decisions. How these two things relate remains a mystery. I may never figure it out.
After by chance listening to the entire set of Hurricane Ranch Discussions yesterday I feel much better about my practice. The descriptions I heard of second path I could have written almost word for word from recent experience - so I feel really good about having that place marker. That's critical all of a sudden and helps relieve the feelings of chaos and plain old "lost-ness" I've had of late. So these things, Kenneth's website especially, are extremely valuable. I can only hope that by posting my screed the next person might be able to read this and relate to it and maybe even be a tiny bit less despairing, confused, upset and just plain lost as a result. Much of what I just said might change tomorrow, and that would be fine. I'm learning to take absolutely everything with a grain of salt. I still love my family deeply and I still get worried about work and other things, but those thoughts do not have the bite they used to have.
Bye for now...
Sep 26 2009, 5:34 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 26 2009, 5:34 PM EDT
"How these two things relate remains a mystery. I may never figure it out."
This will get figured out just not by you :). I laughed when I read "I'm learning to take absolutely everything with a grain of salt."; oh really! The mind makes things "real" by referencing the self. As the self referencing becomes known the mind reorganizes. At the moment for me self referencing is the king pin from which duality compounds. Previously you have said you knew there to be no self, now the truth of this is hitting home. When you are being stressed by the truth of observation, rejoice, it is the mechanism of change :). No self always meant; no choice, no freewill and no one to take anything with a grain of salt and now you know it, but you will never deny existence it is ever present. So where are you? Maybe the answer will be in your next report.
Sep 27 2009, 12:46 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 27 2009, 12:46 PM EDT
Had a very restless night last night. Lay fully awake for hours just seeing and feeling things going on: the brain seems to get faster and faster such that the feel of the bed, thoughts, sounds and any other experiences are just pure vibration happening at an amazing pace and that get shifted from one to the other, to another, to another, and so on. It's feels sort of like being a living jelly bowl of sensitivities. Weird. Sometimes the mind wants to show off and at those times it will show me a series of complicated images in extremely quick succession, as if to say, "See what I can do? Are you getting this?"
These images appear inside a square and are composed of very complex geometric patterns. I have no idea what invokes them. They do their thing for about five seconds and then stop. At one point early this morning I drifted off and was awakened by two blips. Cessations, I believe. The blips occurred about a second apart and were not very noticeable except that I could tell there was a rebooting afterward.
The same thing happened a few days ago during one of my plane rides. I was meditating, jhanas, sort of dozed off and "blip... blip." That time I kind of startled awake. This time I didn't startle but had an, "Oh, there's that again" kind of reaction. It's a carnival ride I got on and now can't get off. I lay in bed thinking, "Why me? Why now? Why did I ever start this?" It is so clearly and completely an involuntary process now and the universe is just going to do its thing no matter what I do or don't do. This is all both fascinating and terrifying, the source of a lot of curiosity and some torment. A vast sea of contradictions, it is. I'm getting pretty tired (weary?), too.
Sep 27 2009, 3:02 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 27 2009, 3:02 PM EDT
Though I am still pre "path," I've been mediating a lot more than usual lately and integrating it more into my non-cushion life - and I too am pretty impressed with what my brain does all the time with no invitation from "me." Stuff just goes on all the time: dreams, fantasies, music, images, stories, sensations. It comes from no where and is going no where. I don't like it or hate it, I'm just impressed by how continuous and relentless it is.
Sep 28 2009, 11:53 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 28 2009, 11:53 AM EDT
I have a lot of energy today. It's collecting in my head, down my back and in my butt. Makes me feel sort of like I'm walking around in a cool, mild jhana all the time. Giddy is the best word I can think of for this feeling. It's a bit of an ethereal, unreal feeling. Hard to describe. Also... I need some feedback: Am I boring you with this update stuff? Am I posting too much of it? Overdoing it? It seems like I am, but that's to me. Please let me know.
Sep 28 2009, 12:14 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 28 2009, 12:14 PM EDT
For me: NOT boring. Please keep posting. On your most recent post (#73): I wonder if part of the development of enlightenment is to eventually become relatively unphased by changes in mood, experience, etc. -- Things just happen and they can be blissful or agonizing and anywhere in between and one knows that there is nothing one can do about it so there is little or no resistance to or identifying with all the stuff.
Sep 28 2009, 12:22 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 28 2009, 12:22 PM EDT
"Also... I need some feedback: Am I boring you with this update stuff? Am I posting too much of it? Overdoing it? It seems like I am, but that's to me. Please let me know."-cmarti Please keep posting this journal, Chris! This kind of raw, honest chronicle of your practice is priceless and will benefit many people.
Sep 28 2009, 12:39 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 28 2009, 12:39 PM EDT
... I need some feedback: Am I boring you with this update stuff?...." What, are you kidding? This stuff is fascinating - please keep posting! I always look forward to reading these accounts.
Sep 28 2009, 2:11 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 28 2009, 2:11 PM EDT
I wasn't kidding. What I experience is interesting to me, to a point, but that doesn't mean it's all that interesting to you and others. I'm just trying to calibrate myself in regard to how much I post here. This is, after all, "out there" in the public domain though the content of it is intensely personal. My hope, as Kenneth has already said, is to be able to help others. That's why this makes sense to me. So I'll keep posting.
Sep 28 2009, 4:27 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 28 2009, 4:27 PM EDT
"I wasn't kidding. What I experience is interesting to me, to a point, but that doesn't mean it's all that interesting to you and others. ...My hope, as Kenneth has already said, is to be able to help others. That's why this makes sense to me. So I'll keep posting." Please continue to update this thread. I don't have much to add but I'm a definite lurker on this topic. Your reports are very helpful.
Sep 28 2009, 10:25 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 28 2009, 10:25 PM EDT
I've drawn a conclusion -- I'm trying too hard.
Sep 29 2009, 6:56 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 29 2009, 6:56 PM EDT
And by "trying too hard" I mean continuing the endless cycles of want, want, want, do, do ,do, control, control, control. That's the definition of hell.
Sep 29 2009, 7:05 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 29 2009, 7:05 PM EDT
When will it become okay to just let go?
Sep 29 2009, 7:20 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 29 2009, 7:21 PM EDT
Great question! Funny thing about "just letting go." There seem to be many elements to such a simple concept. You have to see the mess you've been living in for what it is. You have to acknowledge it as a mess - face it, confront it. You have to have the courage to do that. You have to see that there's another way. You have to give yourself permission to pursue another way. You have to be full of resolve. You have to devote time to it. You have to figure out somehow that "doing" is not succeeding, in this case, unlike with everything else you've ever tried. You have to figure out the mechanics of "just letting go" and you have to jump off a steep cliff, ground or landing place unseen, and have faith that you won't die or otherwise ruin what you have been deluded into thinking was a good thing.
It's very hard to do. If it were easy we'd all be walking around enlightened. Doing is not succeeding! I appreciate your question very much, Mike.
Sep 29 2009, 9:59 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 29 2009, 9:59 PM EDT
But how about just for a couple of weeks not caring so much about all your stuff?
Sep 30 2009, 8:35 AM EDT
What "stuff?" My point being that there is a difference between paying attention to and working with your "stuff" at the level of psychology - which I don't care much about - and working with the "stuff" I mentioned in #82.
See, Mike, there is "stuff" that I seem to desperately want to see that I just don't see.... yet. When I said, "I'm trying too hard" that's what I was referring to. What I need to do as far as I can tell is put down the desperation and give in to now. That's the surrender/just letting go that needs to happen. And as I said last night, that is easier said than done. I have 53 years of "doing" behind me. That's a lot of mental habit to see through, deal with, and try to "get" at a meta level - the "what the hell is really going on here and now" level that we work with in our practice.
Sep 30 2009, 10:26 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 30 2009, 10:26 AM EDT
Yes, I meant the #82 "stuff." I'm sure you are in the middle of a process that I'm not at the point yet that I can really relate to, you know? Keep posting.
Sep 30 2009, 10:54 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 30 2009, 10:54 AM EDT
I'd like to validate Chris. Sometimes it's easy to notice that you're holding on to things and just "let go" - but if it doesn't happen that easily it's counterproductive to *try* to let go. It's kind of the opposite of letting go - in fact, sometimes people have to "let go of letting go." I say stay with whatever phenomenon it is with mindfulness and equanimity. Just notice yourself "not letting go" - notice when you don't, when you do, etc. Examine the phenomenon.
By the way, I wanted to mention that this thread has been extraordinarily helpful to me in understanding some phenomenon I had been overlooking, and helping me diagnose myself. Also, if you are still having a lot of lucid dream experiences, you may want to check out Tibetan Dream Yoga.
Sep 30 2009, 11:23 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 30 2009, 11:23 AM EDT
"What I need to do as far as I can tell is put down the desperation and give in to now. That's the surrender/just letting go that needs to happen. And as I said last night, that is easier said than done."
Hi Chris, I can identify with that statement 100% - I'm at a similar point (only I'm still pre-stream entry, as near as I can tell). I'm trying to let go, but I'm finding that the desire for deliverance can be an insistent, all-pervasive, clinging , cloying nag ... I forget who to credit for this old quote, but I've been reminding myself of it whenever I've been tempted to just throw in the towel and roll up the mat: "The only road out of Hell goes straight through it."
Just keep on keeping on.
Sep 30 2009, 11:38 AM EDT | Post edited: Sep 30 2009, 11:38 AM EDT
To your point, John, yes -- every ugly, nasty, weird, uncomfortable, putrid, dark, selfish feeling I've had lately stands out in high relief. I have been tacking into all of it. This is weirdly like first path but different. It feels deeper and the desire to get to the root of it - the why - is much, much stronger. It's like I know what I need to be able to see, but just can't quite see it. It's but another source of suffering... but in this case one that HAS to be overcome. I told Kenneth last week that I feel like a champagne bottle someone shook up and whose cork is about ready to blow off.
David: Tibetan Dream Yoga. Got it. I'll check it out. Thanks!
Sep 30 2009, 3:02 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 30 2009, 3:02 PM EDT
It's wonderful to see that you're now allowing for effortlessness in your practice. Perhaps it would be helpful at this point to refer back to one of the first posts made on this site; the thread is about "surrender."
Another important part to this process is to stop thinking so much. When I entered priest training two years ago, one of the first things my teacher said to me was "if you want to make progress, you need to stop 'thinking' about making progress." c
Oct 1 2009, 7:56 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 1 2009, 7:56 AM EDT
I promised to post here about what happens more or less as it happens, so I feel an obligation to lay out that fact that this morning what was behind me is now in front of me. It's weird because I've been whining pretty loudly for a while now. Maybe intent (or in my case begging) is a bigger element of practice than I thought it was. I don't know. I've been focusing my attention differently the last week or so, and I have no idea about the cause and effect of this.
Anyway, I see objects this morning but now they have new "attributes." The woman in the car driving next to me is the woman in the car driving next to me in my head and all the stuff in my head is also in that car with that woman. The same applies to all "objects," although I'm not really happy describing them as objects anymore because they're really not. They're nothing. And everything. They're both nothing and everything. They are no longer "out there" with me "in here." They are both out there and in here. And that's as it should be for once!
The background has changed and the view has changed, the world has grown quiet and still. The energy in the body is evenly distributed. Woke up at about 3:30, had a flashing discontinuity, unlike anything I've experienced before. A very bright, white light up in my head's eye. Then just this, slowly being realized over some period of time. Kind of like, "Whoa." It's very difficult to accurately explain or describe this. There are a thousand things that are different and yet in an odd way nothing is different.
This is both very, very subtle and very, very profound. If it lasts you'll know. I have no idea. I'll report back but probably not for a little while because I think I'll take the day off tomorrow and just hang out with this, or whatever is there tomorrow. There is joy. Bye for now.
Oct 1 2009, 9:59 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 1 2009, 9:59 AM EDT
Sounds great Chris! I didn't write much on this thread, but follow it with great interest. Thanks again.
Oct 2 2009, 9:21 AM EDT
So much for taking a vacation day - events have intervened. Those "events" are Microsoft server products that are almost infinitely complex and that Microsoft won't support in certain configurations - like my company's. So... I'll report here that I see little change from yesterday. I'm still evenly distributed, both attention and energy-wise. I'm still experiencing a melding of what was once "inside" with what was once "outside" and on more reflection this one thing seems to be a little more prominent this morning.
The subject-object duality seems to be fading is the bottom line on that front, I think. Things don't seem to be sticky. I guess that's called "not clinging.";-)
I still have "speedy brain" today. I told Kenneth it's like I've turned the family sedan in for a sports car. I can watch more of the entirety of events in real time and kind of adjust to them as they occur - no delay like there used to be.
And there is one new-ish phenomena going on. I'm still walking around with a little mental "buzz." And no, it's not drugs or alcohol! It seems to be related to the more immediate accessibility of other mental states. All I have to do now to access some of them is decide to "go there" and wham, I'm there. At any time. In fact, "getting there" can happen involuntarily, and does many times a day. (Sorry Kenneth, I forgot to mention this one to you.) For example, I just closed my eyes and decided to go there, and was very quickly swept into a pretty deep jhanic-like state. Until very recently this was just plain impossible. and I would have had to sit still and get quiet before being able to access anything like that.
Anyway, we'll see what comes of all this as time passes.
Oct 2 2009, 10:40 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 2 2009, 10:40 AM EDT
Chris, This is awesome! Please continue to describe your experiences as they are a motivation for all of us to continue with practice.
Oct 2 2009, 2:07 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 2 2009, 2:07 PM EDT
Great stuff, Chris - keep up the good work...and keep the reports coming, please!
Oct 3 2009, 12:08 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 3 2009, 12:08 PM EDT
Nothing new to report today. No significant changes from yesterday or the day before. Time will tell.... though an editor once told me never to use that phrase ;-)
Oct 3 2009, 3:34 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 3 2009, 3:34 PM EDT
Wonderful, Chris! Sounds like it's all coming together for you now that you've relaxed into it. :)
Oct 4 2009, 6:16 PM EDT
Again today there's not much that's changed. I've begun to experiment with the jhanas since they're now always available to me. I took my mother to the eye doctor this morning and while she was being examined in the empty hospital wing I sat on the floor, closed my eyes just let the concentration do its own thing. If I do that, as Kenneth has suggested I "not do," then a series of states arise, one after the other. It seems to be an identical progression every time. And while it's a bit harder to tell, it also seems that I ramp back down the same set of states in reverse order.
I have a lot more exploring to do but this new capability makes practice more exciting and I can already say that not pursuing these states in my practice before now was a mistake. I have an intuition that these states are helpful in insight practice as much as they are just plain blissful. I'm also convinced that the immediate availability of these states is related to my feeling of being more grounded and no longer subject to a rigid subject-object duality, the "more relaxed and aware" feeling I have lately and the non-local perception of "where" things are. Don't ask me to explain it, though, because I can't. It's one of those things that just somehow "is." The emergence of this concentration capability has raised a lot of questions and makes me want to ponder the implications, mainly because it seems so organic/biological. But that's probably getting too analytical and I'd like to avoid getting back into that territory for a while. I tend to overdo it and then it affects my practice and, probably worse, my general outlook about practice - which then leads to a lot of churning over "stuff" that isn't important.
And THAT, that one subtle little thing, may be the most important lesson to come from all of this churning of late.
Oct 5 2009, 8:28 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 5 2009, 11:11 AM EDT
Edit: I can see that what "I" bring into every moment (expectations, urge to control) becomes part of that moment. Maybe I can see the parts of now that are "me" better these days.
Anyway, that's not a very good thing to do, but we all do it to one extent or another. A better way is to let every moment be what it is, untouched and without the urge to control. That's much simpler (KISS) and reveals more truth. Somehow, in some way that I can't get at very well, having access to silence and peace has allowed me to see this better.
I'm babbling, so ignore my babble if you must. The point won't stick with you unless it sticks with you anyway. It didn't ever really stick with me, either. I had to see it first.
Oct 9 2009, 4:15 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 9 2009, 4:15 PM EDT
Time for an update.
No major changes of late but I notice more A&P-like events in a fairly regular cycle. These seem to cluster in the very early morning hours so I assume I'm cycling through the A&P at those times. The effects have been kind of weird lately, with a lot of very edgy, sharp, grainy, popping-in-and-out visuals and for the first time in my experience, audio. I "heard" a business associate say loudly and very clearly, "Chris, you there?" into only my right ear as I turned my head to the right early yesterday morning.
The visual effects also seem to favor what I'm now calling "time slicing," which means I'll see a series of frozen images of reality in broad swatches that come one right after the other. It's like watching a deck of individual drawings that make a cartoon when you flip through them, but these are images of reality, not cards or cartoons.
Otherwise I'm becoming a jhana maven. Every sit is comprised of me deciding to let the jhanas do their thing with no interference so that I can really get used to that and map it out.
My practice, I have concluded, is right now best comprised of being concentrated as much as possible all day long while paying attention to right here, right now, and then exploring the jhanic arc while on the cushion.
Oct 9 2009, 4:18 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 9 2009, 4:18 PM EDT
And thanks once again to Kenneth for his very helpful explanations and ever so gentle nudges in the right direction.
Oct 9 2009, 7:42 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 9 2009, 7:42 PM EDT
Wow. Was the audio effect an illusion you were you hearing something happening somewhere else? Are you able to experience all this and still maintain normal life stuff? (job, marriage, kids,etc) You ARE really lucky to have Kenneth's counsel.
Oct 9 2009, 8:09 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 9 2009, 8:09 PM EDT
"Are you able to experience all this and still maintain normal life stuff? "
Hi again, Mike. I'm reporting here on about one ten thousandth (or less) of what happens to me. It's not like I walk around all the time hearing voices and watching old movies in my head. It just SEEMS like my life is chock full of this stuff when you read about it here because that's all I'm telling you about. I made a promise to post here regularly about my dharma experience more or less as it happens. That's all I'm doing. My kids, co-workers and others see no difference in me at all. My wife does, just a little, and thus we've talked about it, but I'm lucky and she's very cool.
Maybe Kenneth, David or another practitioner with more experience than I have can post their experience in this regard but I don't think I'm different or particularly "weirdness prone." Everyone who practices as much as I try to every day and who pays attention will no doubt have these kinds of experiences. It's normal for this path as far as I can tell. And believe me, I've gone for very long periods with absolutely nothing going on at all. Nothing ... at ... all. For month after month after month. The voice was pure illusion. I know whose voice it was though, and why that was floating around in my head at the time. He's a competitor ;-)
Oct 9 2009, 10:48 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 9 2009, 10:48 PM EDT
Okay. I had a pretty good sense of you as going through life pretty normally but I wondered if maybe some of the things like "time splicing" might come up at the wrong time and cause difficulties. I'm glad to hear the answer is no.
Oct 10 2009, 7:50 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 10 2009, 7:50 PM EDT
Have you read or heard about Julian Barbour, a British physicist who has developed a theory of time that sounds very like the time slices you mention? Check him out when you're through with the no doubt pile of books you're currently reading (I assume you have as large a pile as I do).
Oct 11 2009, 10:16 AM EDT
I was in meditation for a long, long time last night. Maybe six hours altogether. Here's the scoop:
1. I can tickle my mind. There's a "place" I can "touch" that creates a tickly sensation that will lead to a cessation if I "move" in the right way. I can do that over and over and over.
2. I watched the entire universe wrap itself around an odd-shaped object. This also somehow made me realize that cessations are not just interruptions in consciousness. They are demonstrations of the way the universe works. This seems to me now to be a very critical realization. But who knows? It could fade away by lunchtime.
3. I'm like a fish. A fish who is unrelentingly in love with objects. I'm so much in love with objects that I have not seen the water I swim in every day. The water is the way to awaken. The objects will just put me back to sleep. Time to see the water, right here, right now.
Oct 11 2009, 10:26 AM EDT
Chris Marti just emailed me a brilliant description of what it feels like to induce cessations. This is very much in accord with my own experience, but I don't think I've ever described it this well:
"I seem to have found a funny little "place" in my head that is where there are cessations. I'm pretty sure I had twenty or thirty of them last night as I played around with this. Is this possible? Am I fooling myself? It's a "place" that I can "touch" and it's like a tension that I can create "there" and then if I roll my eyes up a certain way and "touch" my mind in just the right way... blip! Tension released. Sometimes there's a series of them in fast succession: blip, blip, blip blip. It's like my mind is being tickled." -cmarti
Oct 13 2009, 8:04 PM EDT
Thank you. Kenneth.
Nothing really new to report, although I'm getting more and more adept at bouncing in and out of jhanas during meetings. Practice is very different now and it's really quite fun and exciting to have all this mental territory to explore, and to be able to do that at any time is icing on the cake.
I find myself waking up into jhanas and going to sleep in jhanas. Jhanas just want to happen. They seem to be like the "strange attractors" that chaos mathematicians talk about - the mind just gravitates into jhana if left to its own devices.
As for the cessation thing - there is a very interesting lightning-like phenomena that can accompany them. The light, if that's even what it is, appears to come from "behind" my field of vision so that I see only the reflection of the light on the "front" side of my field of vision. It's sort of like watching the flashes of light from lightning that's behind a cloud bank. This effect is hard to decsribe in words but it's amazing to "see."
Once upon a time I was afraid of the letting go that is required when you head into a jhana. From what some folks told me back then this is a common fear that many people have. Common or not, it wasn't easy to for me overcome until recently. I think this represented a fear of losing "me" in some way.
Anyway, if you have that fear you're not alone, but please know that it's unfounded and that you can, and will, get over it.
Oct 13 2009, 10:07 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 13 2009, 10:07 PM EDT
"... if you have that fear you're not alone, but please know that it's unfounded and that you can, and will, get over it."
Another thing I needed to hear. Thank you.
Oct 18 2009, 10:17 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 18 2009, 10:17 AM EDT
Nothing new. Just practicing, though "practice" is now more or less part of what goes on all the time. Please don't take that as a statement to the effect that I don't think formal sitting practice isn't necessary. It is. I still do it every day, but it's an adjunct to every day activity in the mind, observing, processing, discovering, experimenting.
Oct 23 2009, 8:22 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 23 2009, 8:22 AM EDT
Was awakened at 3:00 this morning. Got up, pet one cat and the dog, peed. Lay back down in bed and got sucked up into a jhana. I don't really know how this works for anyone else but this really is like getting "sucked up" into jhana. If I throw the switch (decide to start the vacuum) the motor starts of the powerful vacuum suction grabs and zoom!, off we go! Anyway, this is a new one.
I think I posted a while back about the lightning-like lights in the back of mind? Lots of that going on at first this morning. Then a really, really different electrical/static-y kind of feeling that faded in and out with the breath (everything fades in and out with the breath). This went on for quite some time and finally I was able to widen the field of attention, er, let's say the field of attention was widened for me. Really, really, really wide. Felt all body sensations, then all of everything else in the field of experience. Saw this happen, saw that there is that, then there is what is not that.
There's experience, and then there's not experience. Is/is not. Clearly seeing that experience is of one thing, only one thing, what is not is not experience. I'm not making a lot of sense but that's as close as I can come right now to what this was. The feeling is not language based. It's just there. It's not meant to be expressed in words I guess, but I'm trying my best.
So this particular new room, new perch, new lens, new perspective, new jhana, just kept going for a while. I played with it and learned how to "harden" it. The best way to describe that process is that I found a notch, a ring, a handle, that I could "grab" with the breath to hang on to it or bring it on. If you can't find that handle you can't hang with the jhana. They each seem to have their own handle, so to speak, so you have to sort of learn "where" that is for each one so you can go "in" if you want. Otherwise you will just stand in the foyer, or maybe even drop back into another jhana.
So I got up when the alarm went off at 5:30 AM and came to work. Anyway, I've *finally* been plugged in to the present moment. I thought I knew the present moment. I was wrong. That's it for now. I'll report back later as things either develop, go back the way they were or.... well, whatever happens is what just happens.
Oct 23 2009, 10:42 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 23 2009, 10:42 AM EDT
Do you have any idea what the taxonomy of this particular jhana is? Just curious. I have to say, this very much seems like anagami stuff, or at least 3rd path from what I've read and heard. I don't feel qualified to say with any certainty though. Can anyone else comment? Can you tell us more about being finally plugged into the present moment?
Oct 23 2009, 11:22 AM EDT
I'll try to describe it, David. When I say "plugged into the present moment" I mean I'm way, way, way more firmly embedded in it. My connection to it is no longer very conceptual and more intuitive, more "feeling" and more... I dunno, the words aren't coming that adequately describe this. It's in my bones. I don't seem to have the kind of anticipation/recollection mind noise that I had, even yesterday. I'm utterly and completely buried in the now and it is utterly and completely buried in me. We are the same. One thing with no real separation. At the same time there is a kind of aura about things that hints at the blue, electric kind of sense from the jhana I was in early this morning.
This "anchored" feeling is NOT the same feeling I used to have - that was more of a "security" type of feeling generated by my butt in the chair, my feet on the ground, the expectation that what was true then would be true now will be true tomorrow. THIS feeling is created by connectedness and ONLY the connectedness. It's not dependent on surroundings, events, objects, subject. The feeling is about the reliability of the *connection,* not the reliability of the stuff.
As I drove to the office I played a little game (do not do this! My bad!) to investigate:
1. look at the road and the other cars,
2. close my eyes and feel whatever I feel for just a few seconds, then
3. open my eyes again.
That little exercise made it very clear that it doesn't matter what's there when I open my eyes after leaving them closed for a few seconds. I have no expectation about that as of this morning. That may come as close to putting the nub of this into words as I can get.
Now, this stuff comes and goes sometimes. There's no way to know what it is without letting some time pass and seeing what happens. I don't know about the taxonomy part.
23 2009, 5:08 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 23 2009, 5:08 PM EDT
"So this particular new room, new perch, new lens, new perspective, new jhana, just kept going for a while. I played with it and learned how to "harden" it. The best way to describe that process is that I found a notch, a ring, a handle, that I could "grab" with the breath to hang on to it or bring it on. If you can't find that handle you can't hang with the jhana. They each seem to have their own handle, so to speak, so you have to sort of learn "where" that is for each one so you can go "in" if you want. Otherwise you will just stand in the foyer, or maybe even drop back into another jhana." -cmarti
I love your descriptions, Chris!
This is top-notch explication of an experience that is notoriously hard to describe.
Oct 23 2009, 5:55 PM EDT
Hi, Kenneth. While I may never actually get very far I can describe the living daylights out of just that! I'm still hanging out with this deeply satisfying, just-being-right-here-like-a-mountain kind of thing. I'm going to go have dinner with some great friends and really enjoy that. After that, sleep. After that, who knows?
Oct 24 2009, 12:07 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 24 2009, 12:07 PM EDT
Still very plugged into the present this morning. This feels really stable, really good. Makes me feel connected to things.
Now, though I have been using the words "connection" and "plugged in" that's not quite right. It's as though the connection is no longer needed. The mediation that was present before isn't there now, so.... again, loss for the right terms. So.... let's try this: all that is, right now, is immediate and available and is not interfered with by mind noise. What is there is direct and very, very clean. This applies to surroundings as well as to emotions and thoughts. It's all of one piece.
Oct 25 2009, 11:37 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 25 2009, 11:37 AM EDT
Had a new type of cessation last night. Bigger. More "impactful." It was signaled by a ring, a donut, a torus shaped thing outlined by the lightning I've been babbling about here for a few weeks.
Oct 25 2009, 7:26 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 25 2009, 7:26 PM EDT
Sorry for all the posts lately but I did make a promise to update this thread with events in my practice as they occur.
I've discovered an interesting thing that happens if I focus my attention tightly on the area between my eyes. A kind of "sinking into blackness" thing begins to encroach on me, and it will just keep getting blacker and deeper and blacker and deeper if I keep pushing at it, until pretty much everything just blacks out. This process feels like the reverse of the onset of a jhana, so it's less like being sucked "up" into the thing and more like being pushed "down" into the thing. The pushing is, of course, willful and it has to be aimed right smack dab at the middle of my forehead. Right between the eyes! It's as if there is an infinity in there.
At first I was sort of frightened by this and I've purposely left it alone. But as I get more accustomed to concentration states it gets easier to experiment with them and that fear quality has slowly faded. I think I need to play with this one some more and see if I can make it happen in a smoother, easier manner. And I need to push it all the way a few times, too. This one seems to be a bit more difficult to do, especially at first, but like other concentration states it also seems to get easier and smoother with practice.
I continue to be amazed at the difference easier access to concentration makes and the powerful nature of the path to just kind of pull one along. It seems at times that actual formal sitting isn't even necessary, but I suppose that's what I'm doing as most of these experiences come at night while I'm just laying in bed. I've taken lately to not reading or talking to my wife (sorry, wife) but just laying back and letting it rip.
This is decidedly not what I expected practice to be like, but here it is.
Oct 25 2009, 8:17 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 25 2009, 8:17 PM EDT
What happens if you stop pushing on it before you go all the way into it and black out?
Oct 25 2009, 8:25 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 25 2009, 8:25 PM EDT
If I stop pushing down into it it stops and I come back "out" and can either start over or do something else. It's not an inevitable process until past a certain critical point. That's more or less what I was getting at when I said "willful." I have to keep going or it bounces back. Sort of like a rubber band.
Oct 25 2009, 9:22 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 25 2009, 9:22 PM EDT
"Sorry for all the posts lately but I did make a promise to update this thread with events in my practice as they occur."
No reason to apologize! Your updates are interesting and informative, basically like an online journal of your evolving progress. I think a lot of people find your reports to be beneficial. Wonderful for us to have the opportunity to "watch" the unfolding of your experiences. Hopefully, it's also helpful to you, too! I'm sure it's sometimes a challenge to articulate these experiences in an intelligible "verbal expression." Our language (particularly the English language) is insufficient when it comes to describing things of this context. You're descriptions are really good!
Oct 25 2009, 9:29 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 25 2009, 9:29 PM EDT
"HI, Kenneth. If I stop pushing down into it it stops and I come back"out" and can either start over or do something else. It's not an inevitable process until past a certain critical point. That's more or less what I was getting at when I said "willful." I have to keep going or it bounces back. Sort of like a rubber band. -cmarti"
If you do this during the day, then get up and do something else, what is your general mind state following the sitting?
Oct 25 2009, 11:12 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 25 2009, 11:12 PM EDT
Well, I just tried it because I haven't done this during the daytime yet. I didn't take it all the way because that's not easy for me to do. I stopped after getting pretty far into the dark infinity stuff. Now I'm kind of in a fugue-like state. It's a little bit of an "unreality" feeling. Floating, sort of, but mentally. I have a buzz going. This is not unpleasant by any means. Sort of like "being" Jimmy Buffet as opposed to just listening to Jimmy Buffet. This should have a label that says, "Do not drive or operate heavy equipment while under the influence of this state of mind."
Is that what you meant by general mind state, Kenneth?
Oct 25 2009, 11:16 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 25 2009, 11:16 PM EDT
"Hopefully, it's also helpful to you, too!"
Honestly? It feels a little "out there" sometimes and I periodically think it might be too personal for a public message board. Sometimes I feel pretty exposed. But I made a pact with myself to do this, so on we go....
Oct 26 2009, 2:43 AM EDT
Yes, Chris - it is helpful in various ways... particularly since I'm hoping to eventually be able to assist others with their practice. Although, my focus is Zuowang and Dzogchen practice, I think it's of value to have a broad understanding of various practices and methods. The more personal experiences that I hear about, the better. Again, thank you for sharing these reports.
Oct 26 2009, 9:14 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 26 2009, 9:14 AM EDT
"Well, I just tried it because I haven't done this during the daytime yet. I didn't take it all the way because that's not easy for me to do. I stopped after getting pretty far into the dark infinity stuff. Now I'm kind of in a fugue-like state. It's a little bit of an "unreality" feeling. Floating, sort of, but mentally. I have a buzz going. This is not unpleasant by any means. Sort of like "being" Jimmy Buffet as opposed to just listening to Jimmy Buffet. This should have a label that says, "Do not drive or operate heavy equipment while under the influence of this state of mind. Is that what you meant by general mind state, Kenneth?" -cmarti
Yes, this is exactly what I was asking about. You seem to be describing nirodha samapatti, which is an important developmental landmark because you have to be at least an anagami (3rd Path) in order to do it.
But I don't want to jump to that conclusion just yet, so if you don't mind, maybe we could triangulate a bit. This kind of obsessive mapping may not be comfortable for you, so just let me know if you'd rather not play along. What happens when you ride the jhanic arc up through the jhanas during a sitting? What is the highest jhana you get to before you peak and start back down the arc? Are there 8? If you can get to the 8th jhana, see if there isn't a ninth. (The ability to access more than 8 jhanas is also something that only anagamis and arahats have. There are a total of 13 jhanas, although the final 5 are almost never spoken about in the popular literature.)
Oct 26 2009, 10:43 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 26 2009, 10:43 AM EDT
Kenneth, I'm going to preempt you (sorry) and self-diagnose and say I'm not an anagami. When I follow the jhanic arc I can count seven jhanas, and *maybe* an eighth, but that's a big maybe. A new jhana showed up a few days ago but I'm hard pressed to describe it since it appears to have nothing to describe about it.
Truth be told the word "in" doesn't even really apply. That dark, black middle of the forehead non-jhana sort of capability has been with me for a while but I have purposely stayed away from it. It honestly scared me and though I knew it was there. After starting into it a few times I stopped because it was hard to push into it and it was pretty freaking dark in there. As I said, it appears to be an infinity of blackness and only recently did I push through it fully.
Anyway, I'm still feeling a lot of activity in and around my forehead that arcs up onto the top of my head. From what little I know there's a pretty huge jump into anagami territory and I just don't recall anything like that happening to me.
Do I experience the world differently these days? You bet I do! I don't see the world in the way I used to at all. I'm now literally a part of the world and not just an observer. But that has come gradually, albeit with some recent acceleration. I'll try to see if there's anything beyond this new eighth jhana and let you know.
I do notice that if I relax into the feelings in my forehead I can conjure up some very, very pleasant experiences, but that's generated not by pushing down into that area with my attention as I described last night but by just relaxing with the feelings that are there already. Is that something that I should know about?
Oct 26 2009, 11:45 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 26 2009, 11:45 AM EDT
"I'll try to see if there's anything beyond this new eighth jhana and let you know. I do notice that if I relax into the feelings in my forehead I can conjure up some very, very pleasant experiences, but that's generated not by pushing down into that area with my attention as I described last night but by just relaxing with the feelings that are there already. Is that something that I should know about?" -cmarti
Yes, Chris, I would take a real interest in further exploring this territory, which I believe is the cutting edge of your practice. Keep experimenting with these pleasant sensations that are associated with the third eye chakra, and go as deeply as possible into them when they naturally arise during meditation. You may find that you can go directly to any jhana at any time, and that is an interesting exploration in itself. But there is a price to be paid for manipulation, and that price is usually a vague anxiety along with mental fatigue.
The most natural way to explore the jhanas is to notice them arise in succession during a sitting. So, the best time to look for the new "very pleasant" state is after the eighth jhana has faded. Don't be discouraged if the eighth jhana is indescribable; that's its hallmark.
Oct 26 2009, 12:10 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 26 2009, 12:10 PM EDT
Got it, and will do, Kenneth.
As always, your coaching is really helpful. As an aside, I'm not necessarily uncomfortable with maps but I think if I pay too much attention to them they become easy to obsess over and then they can actually hurt my practice as opposed to helping it. It's seems more natural for me to explore in my own fumbling way. I think some journeys require a map and the paying of close attention to it. Other journeys are better if the map is there but used only when the actual journey is at risk. This spiritual journey is the latter type for me. I realize that what is going to happen is just going to happen and will become readily apparent on its own.
I don't believe I can make this process go faster and I doubt I could slow it down, either. Wanting to speed this process up is a trap that it has taken me a long time to see. I'm comfortable right here in my own sort of "middle way" now. This is not a contest or a race. If you manage to make it into one you may do yourself and others actual harm.
Okay, end of rant.
Oct 27 2009, 9:40 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 27 2009, 9:40 AM EDT
Okay, so when I sat last night I was initially drawn right into that new third eye/infinitely black non-jhana. This has never happened to me before. When I sit I naturally get drawn up into the jhanas. I don't know if it was because I experimented with it to answer your question two nights , Kenneth, or.... jeez, I don't know. I was able to draw back and start over, only to have the same thing happen again the second time. The third time restart was the charm and I spent the rest of the sitting following the jhanic arc.
Power of suggestion? Has to be. Maybe I was focused on the third eye area too much.
Oct 28 2009, 8:52 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 28 2009, 8:52 AM EDT
Wave after wave of warm, numb-like sensations washed over me, starting in my hands and feet, and eventually wrapping themselves completely around me like a cosmic bliss blanket. All I did to get that effect, which lasted a very long time after I stopped the actual meditation, was to follow Kenneth's instructions to let the jhanic arc take me up and then when that faded focus on the already existing sensations in my forehead.
Oh.... my.... goodness.
If I stay with this process it slowly gets deeper and deeper and deeper. I have a business trip that starts tomorrow and lasts for a week.
Gosh, what to do on those long plane rides.....
Oct 28 2009, 3:45 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 28 2009, 3:45 PM EDT
Although I've never had fruition occur, I did stumble upon a few Jhanas by accident during my Vipassana practice, What I found interesting about your post is the third eye thing. I experience strong pressure vibrations in my third eye chakra most of the day, usually it is quite pleasant and I dwell into those sensations whenever I got time to notice.
Oct 28 2009, 5:32 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 28 2009, 5:32 PM EDT
I'm quite certain that I'll wake up one day, get up and go look in the mirror to find that I really have grown a third eye. Well, maybe not, but that's how it feels. And that feeling has accelerated now to the point that it can be a really urgent kind of thing all day long. Feels like there's actually something up inside there. Something not moving around but pushing against my forehead from the inside. It wants to come out, whatever it is.
Oct 31 2009, 10:47 AM EDT | Post edited: Oct 31 2009, 10:47 AM EDT
There are a lot of changes I want to talk about but I don' t have much time due to work commitments.
The most noticeable, and probably the most important change, however, is that I'm now part of the world and not just observing it, and that aspect of experience seems to deepen on a daily, if not hourly, basis.
I've also talked at length with Kenneth about my recent experiences and he has helped me sort things out (thank you again, Kenneth!) and as a result I have a much better "feel" for where I am on the Theravada four path maps. I continue to have a lot of activity that is happening at night and early in the morning and was again awakened at about 3:00 AM today and ended up in what I believe to be one of the Pure Land jhanas, which is an amazingly soothing and happy place.
I seem to have lost most of my former ability to agonize over the future and worry about the past. When I'm not directly observing a thing it's just not really there any more, and when I focus back onto that thing it's sort of like experiencing it for the first time.
In other words, objects are there when directly experienced but they do not persist -- they are impermanent all the time.
Oct 31 2009, 12:20 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 31 2009, 12:20 PM EDT
Thanks for your posts, quite inspiring. Though I'm pretty sure I have not reached stream-entry, I also find myself waking up pretty much every morning at 3am without any apparet reason, mostly on days where I practice well, and then going back to sleep. Interesting to see it is not just me. I would love to hear some history of your practice, methods years etc..