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The Middle Paths (2nd and 3rd)

Looking for help getting to 3rd path

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Looking for help getting to 3rd path Fitter Stoke 9/16/12 1:01 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Daniel M. Ingram 9/16/12 2:14 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Fitter Stoke 9/16/12 5:01 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Tommy M 9/16/12 3:52 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Fitter Stoke 9/16/12 5:34 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Nikolai . 9/16/12 8:25 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Fitter Stoke 9/17/12 7:46 AM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Tommy M 9/17/12 5:14 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Fitter Stoke 9/18/12 8:01 AM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Andy W 9/18/12 12:01 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Shashank Dixit 9/16/12 9:57 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Bailey . 9/17/12 12:26 AM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Fitter Stoke 9/17/12 7:56 AM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Fitter Stoke 10/19/12 5:27 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Stian Gudmundsen Høiland 10/19/12 6:47 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Fitter Stoke 11/9/12 10:11 AM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Dream Walker 1/27/14 2:48 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Daniel M. Ingram 1/27/14 8:58 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Julie V 1/28/14 9:31 AM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Dream Walker 1/28/14 1:35 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Richard Zen 1/28/14 8:27 PM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Julie V 2/2/14 7:09 AM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Banned For waht? 1/29/14 6:40 AM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Fitter Stoke 1/29/14 11:32 AM
RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path Dream Walker 1/30/14 1:47 PM
Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
9/16/12 1:01 PM
It's been three months since I got 2nd path, and I feel stuck in limbo. Sitting is a crap shoot. Sometimes I can climb up to equanimity, hang out there, and spend a little time in 5th jhana. Sometimes I seem to cycle back to A&P, though I haven't noticed a fruition in about a month. At least 50% of the time I have no concentration and am stuck dealing with difficult sensations; there are plenty of sits where I notice no ñanas at all, because I just don't think the concentration is there to get them to happen.

Despite working on them for about three months now, I don't really have much skill with vipassana jhanas. My guess is that if I were in a retreat setting, I would be able to move through them with ease. But barring going on a retreat, I don't think I'm going to be able to map my progress by seeing how high I can get up in the jhanas. It's just not a practice that comes naturally to me. I have a few tools to work with, but mostly I note.

Since I'm unlikely to be able to use the arupa jhanas as a guide here, are there any other ways to map this territory? Is there any way to tell whether I'm making progress or whether I'm stagnating or even sliding back? I understand that I should be cycling here. Is there any way to tell the difference between cycling and just oscillating between DN and equanimity?

The tedium is getting in my nerves, and so is the feeling of being lost without a map. Any suggestions?

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
9/16/12 2:14 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Taking it as a working assumption that you got 2nd path, which is an assumption, and just proceeding as if that were the case:

Third involves a few things, as I see it:

1) Continuing to practice, and by that I mean directly seeing things arise and vanish on their own over there, however you can do that. Noting is good, direct observation of all the complexity is better, though using noting to ease into difficult patterns of sensations can be useful.

2) Going wide and through: as third is more spacious, more about dissolving a significant chunk of what seems to be observing, doing, controlling, analyzing, and the like, you both have to take on more of the sensations that seem to be all of that, which they aren't, and also see how to dissolve the artificial boundaries that seem to delineate that from everything else, meaning the rest of what happens in what seems to be space. Play on that line: how do you know what the edge between what seems to be you and not you is, viscerally, perceptually, vibrationally, texturally, geographically, volumetrically? Any quality that you notice seems to really feel like it means it is you, see the Three Characteristics of that.

3) Dismiss ideals and the patterns of ideals about what you think this stuff will do as more sensations to observe. If you can do this at the level of fluxing, shifting patterns of suchness, that is easier, but whatever level you find yourself at is the level that you can work with, as it is all the same from that point of view, and knowing that simple fact can help a lot.

4) Really allow the thing to show itself. Really allow luminosity to show itself. Really allow things to just happen as they do. Less control, more direct understanding of that natural unfolding, more noticing how the sense of control occurs at all, what it feels like, how that set of textures and intentions set up a sense that there is a you that is doing anything and how obviously wrong that is. Feel into what seems to be looking, asking, wanting, expecting and vipassanize all of that: not forcefully but skillfully, subtly coaxing those patterns into the light of awareness that sees through their clever tricks, almost like you have to look just slightly to the side of the Pleiades to see them as clearly, almost as if you have to sneak up on them so gently that they don't notice it and can be caught unawares, except that sneaking process is what you are trying to sneak up on.

5) Notice that you can't do anything other than what happens. Try. See how those patterns occur. Try to do something other than what happens. It is preposterous, but when you try it, there are patterns that arise, patterns of illusion, patterns of pretending, patterns that if you start to look at them you will see are ludicrous, laughable, like a kid's fantasies, and yet that is how you believe you are controlling things, so try again and again to do something other than what occurs and watch those patterns of confusion and pretending to be in control that arise and you will learn something. This is an unusually profound point.

6) Really, really keep the Three Characteristics in all their profundity as the Gold Standards for whether or not you are perceiving things clearly, and each moment you aren't, notice why and debunk that right there, and then do it again and again and again, as it always takes more repetitions of that process than people think it should, and so many get psyched out, when it may have not been that many more iterations of the process to have succeeded in locking that in as the way of perceiving things permanently.

7) Feel the going out into new territory with its confusion, tedium, frustration and creepiness as the thing itself: that which wants it to be known, mapped, predictable, safe, familiar is part of the thing that you need to see as it is: see those patterns in the head, chest, stomach, throat, etc. as more shifting, fresh patterns: that freshness keeps you honest, keeps you really paying attention in that slightly violating, slightly personally-taboo way that really helps in the end.

8) If you are familiar with the vipassana jhanas as living, familiar, felt things, then realize that Third has elements of the Third Jhana, wide but somehow there is something creepy about it, as it violates the center in a more full-time way than the earlier paths do. The more you have a tolerance for something in that letting go through-to-the-bone creepiness and can see the good side in that, the width, the spaciousness, the naturalness, the directness, the completeness, the fullness, the now-ness of it, the better you will do. It is a more sophisticated way of perceiving things, more out of control, more brave, more free, requiring more trust, more openness, more acceptance, being more down to earth and also more diffuse at the same time, which is an odd juxtaposition of feelings to get used to, but it is worth it.

9) If you have 5th, or even 4j.5j, meaning the spacious aspect of 4th that is not truly formless but still quite open and wide, that is a really good pointer, just allow it to also go through anything you think is you, working on that seeming boundary line, as above, but allowing it to breathe, to flux, volumetrically, like moving blobs of space with texture all together, all of them just the natural world doing its rich and empty thing.

Any of that help?

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
9/16/12 3:52 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Hey Jim,

When did you get 1st Path? I remember you posting earlier in the year and still being pre-Path, so I'm curious as to how your practice has been since then and when you think you landed Path?

Quite a few things you mention here give me reason to question your claims to 2nd Path, not least of all the amount of time you've been practicing and without having had a practice history prior to that. Don't get me wrong, it's not impossible to make progress relatively quickly, and I'm not saying "Well, there's no way you could have got 2nd Path", but the way this thing tends to play out, especially at 2nd and 3rd, can be quite unpredictable and it's easy to get mixed up. The level of practice, concentration and accuracy of noting to have moved from pre-Path to 2nd in less than a year, without prior practice too, would have to have been seriously high and I don't see any evidence of that in your post.

To be clear here, I'm not trying to be an arsehole and dismiss your claims or question your integrity. I re-read your first post and the level of detail you were noting was really good and your descriptions suggested that, contrary to what you've said here, you've got a good handle on the ins and out of the ñanas and vipassana jhanas. I'm concerned that you're probably not as far on as you think and so advice related to going for 3rd path would be a waste of time, there's a different way of practicing involved which, in my experience, is much more concentration-based and less about hardcore noting so, if your self-diagnosis is incorrect then it'd be pointless.

A few things which may be of use to you:

- If you'd gotten 1st path, your sits would start off at 4th ñana every time without fail until you begin the cycle for 2nd Path.

- 2nd Path seems to involve a different 'type' of fruition than 1st, there's still a cessation but the entrance and exit seems to present differently in some way. This is kinda hard to explain, I don't know if anyone else could maybe add anything on this?

- Once you've crossed the A&P for the first time, you're cycling from 1st to 11th (or up to your current perceptual baseline), and once you've got Path, until you get into the next Path-cycle, you'll cycle from 4th to fruition repeatedly.

- Jhana-wise, you should be able to get into access concentration in a second or two just through bare attention. Access to 1st jhana shouldn't be a problem either, but this may be down to individual proclivities and I'm just mentioning it based on how things were for me after 1st Path.

It'd be good to know when you think you got Path, what sort of things have changed since then experientially, as well as some details on how your sits currently play out in terms of phenomenology. I'm not confident that you've got 2nd path which is why I'll avoid giving any specific advice related to 3rd right now, I'm not saying that I expect you to convince me or anything but I'd like to be able to help as much as I can and knowing more about your practice right now would make that easier.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
9/16/12 5:01 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I'm grateful for this reply, and yes, it does help. Questions/comments below...

Daniel M. Ingram:
Taking it as a working assumption that you got 2nd path, which is an assumption, and just proceeding as if that were the case:


Of course. Rather than regale you with all the reasons I think I'm sakadagami, I'll just mention that Beth and Kenneth both monitored my progress up through the first two paths. Though very good teachers can make mistakes, too, so I appreciate you just humoring me.

Daniel M. Ingram:
Third involves a few things, as I see it:

1) Continuing to practice, and by that I mean directly seeing things arise and vanish on their own over there, however you can do that. Noting is good, direct observation of all the complexity is better, though using noting to ease into difficult patterns of sensations can be useful.


I'm not sure what you mean by "direct observation of all the complexity is better", so I'll just quickly explain what tricks I have up my sleeves, and you tell me if I'm on the right path.

Usually I do very quick, loose noting, but as the speed of noticing increases, it's often necessary to let go of noting to some degree or just accept that I'm only able to verbally describe a small portion of what's going on. This doesn't really matter, because the point is to see that it's all Not Me. The more I'm able to explicitly see that all of this is Not Me, not something to be taken personally, not something to be bought-into, not something to be even subtly identified with, the better time I'm likely to have on the cushion, and the more likely I am to make it up to 11th ñana. Once that confusion sets in as to which side the observer is on, the observed or the observing, I'm golden. This comes to be with varying degrees of ease lately, depending where I am in the cycles.

Sometimes I can do the same thing without noting, just settling the attention on the third eye region while I gently roll my eyes back. A typical sit often involves some combination of rapid-fire noting and going to this "sweet spot" and gently coasting my way up the jhanic arc. I have to be careful once I get to 4th jhana, though, because it's easy to get a fruition doing this if I kind of meld with the third eye region and keep the three characteristics in mind. Usually some combination of indifference and seeing that this is Not Me will cause me to cycle back, which is fine, unless I'm trying to refine 4th jhana and get the higher jhanas, which I generally suck at. Though you mention arupa jhanas below, so I'll save my questions about that for later.

Completing the first two paths, for me, mostly meant sinking in to that general confusion about observer/observed I mentioned above: clearly seeing in real time how, for example, the sound of a bird off in the distance or an itch in my toe gets "funneled" through a sensation in the center of my head or in my face, and really perceiving the ridiculousness of that ... over and over and over again. Once that process takes off, it's a matter of hours, maybe even minutes, until the discontinuities start. I've done two full cycles like this. I can't seem to get it to happen a third time, but there do seem to be very rapid, less dramatic cycles, and I haven't been on retreat since 2nd path.

Anyway, noting is a part of this, especially, as you say, when there are some difficult sensations. If I'm DN'ing, I just note my ass off and hope for the best. If not, I get up to 4th jhana like riding up an elevator, not much more to it than that. But it's a crap shoot like I said...

Daniel M. Ingram:
2) Going wide and through: as third is more spacious, more about dissolving a significant chunk of what seems to be observing, doing, controlling, analyzing, and the like, you both have to take on more of the sensations that seem to be all of that, which they aren't, and also see how to dissolve the artificial boundaries that seem to delineate that from everything else, meaning the rest of what happens in what seems to be space. Play on that line: how do you know what the edge between what seems to be you and not you is, viscerally, perceptually, vibrationally, texturally, geographically, volumetrically? Any quality that you notice seems to really feel like it means it is you, see the Three Characteristics of that.


I think I basically get this. I'm accustomed to being able to do this from high equanimity. It sounds like I have to stop treating this as a state and try to get into the habit of doing this automatically - as absurd as it is to say that "I" am "trying" anything at this point, yes, which, if I get what you're saying, is part of the thing I have to get over.

Daniel M. Ingram:
3) Dismiss ideals and the patterns of ideals about what you think this stuff will do as more sensations to observe. If you can do this at the level of fluxing, shifting patterns of suchness, that is easier, but whatever level you find yourself at is the level that you can work with, as it is all the same from that point of view, and knowing that simple fact can help a lot.

4) Really allow the thing to show itself. Really allow luminosity to show itself. Really allow things to just happen as they do. Less control, more direct understanding of that natural unfolding, more noticing how the sense of control occurs at all, what it feels like, how that set of textures and intentions set up a sense that there is a you that is doing anything and how obviously wrong that is. Feel into what seems to be looking, asking, wanting, expecting and vipassanize all of that: not forcefully but skillfully, subtly coaxing those patterns into the light of awareness that sees through their clever tricks, almost like you have to look just slightly to the side of the Pleiades to see them as clearly, almost as if you have to sneak up on them so gently that they don't notice it and can be caught unawares, except that sneaking process is what you are trying to sneak up on.


Yeah. This is the part I'm resisting. I'm grasping knowledge and control. I mean, writing a post to the effect of "help me map out my mess," is part of that fixation. I did two, clear Mahasi cycles. Even when I was in dark night, I knew I was in dark night, so how bad could it get for me? Now I'm in an area where the map doesn't provide comfort, so I'm confronting this new level of identification, control, fixation, fascination, what have you.

I mean, I'm hitting it on almost every sit. There's an annoying buzz all over the body, and then there are tons of stories about how I suck at this, that, or the other thing, how I'm lost, how none of this makes sense any more, and it will go on for about 10 minutes until I just learn to watch what's happening and not buy in. From what you're saying, it sounds like I have to take that attitude of letting the damn thing go and make it more comprehensive, make it more the baseline rather than something I do just to get over the hump of reobservation.

Daniel M. Ingram:
5) Notice that you can't do anything other than what happens. Try. See how those patterns occur. Try to do something other than what happens. It is preposterous, but when you try it, there are patterns that arise, patterns of illusion, patterns of pretending, patterns that if you start to look at them you will see are ludicrous, laughable, like a kid's fantasies, and yet that is how you believe you are controlling things, so try again and again to do something other than what occurs and watch those patterns of confusion and pretending to be in control that arise and you will learn something. This is an unusually profound point.


Is this different from what I just described?

Daniel M. Ingram:
6) Really, really keep the Three Characteristics in all their profundity as the Gold Standards for whether or not you are perceiving things clearly, and each moment you aren't, notice why and debunk that right there, and then do it again and again and again, as it always takes more repetitions of that process than people think it should, and so many get psyched out, when it may have not been that many more iterations of the process to have succeeded in locking that in as the way of perceiving things permanently.

7) Feel the going out into new territory with its confusion, tedium, frustration and creepiness as the thing itself: that which wants it to be known, mapped, predictable, safe, familiar is part of the thing that you need to see as it is: see those patterns in the head, chest, stomach, throat, etc. as more shifting, fresh patterns: that freshness keeps you honest, keeps you really paying attention in that slightly violating, slightly personally-taboo way that really helps in the end.


Yeah. This 7th point especially is the blind spot, the un-vipassana-ized region, the point that's hanging me up, the point toward which I'm grasping, trying to ground, getting frustrated.

Interestingly, I didn't have to worry about this that much when the maps were working for me. The maps/knowing-where-I-was was a strength. Now it's just the next chunk of stuff that has to be run through the mill. I think I get this.

Daniel M. Ingram:
8) If you are familiar with the vipassana jhanas as living, familiar, felt things, then realize that Third has elements of the Third Jhana, wide but somehow there is something creepy about it, as it violates the center in a more full-time way than the earlier paths do. The more you have a tolerance for something in that letting go through-to-the-bone creepiness and can see the good side in that, the width, the spaciousness, the naturalness, the directness, the completeness, the fullness, the now-ness of it, the better you will do. It is a more sophisticated way of perceiving things, more out of control, more brave, more free, requiring more trust, more openness, more acceptance, being more down to earth and also more diffuse at the same time, which is an odd juxtaposition of feelings to get used to, but it is worth it.


Now this is very interesting, and I've never heard this before. I do know the first 4 vipassana jhanas reasonably well, and I would say that meditation in general over the past two months or so has had a lot of the qualities I associate with 3rd jhana, especially the dreaminess, the feeling of being dispersed or feeling kind of weird, especially at the surface of the skin, while the whole thing feels like it's moving through molasses. I guess this is that whole fractal thing you warned about in MCTB: all these little cycles spelling out one, big 3rd jhana.

I think I can get this ("brave ... free .. out of control"), and when I do, it will probably help me a number of ways off-the-cushion.

Daniel M. Ingram:
9) If you have 5th, or even 4j.5j, meaning the spacious aspect of 4th that is not truly formless but still quite open and wide, that is a really good pointer, just allow it to also go through anything you think is you, working on that seeming boundary line, as above, but allowing it to breathe, to flux, volumetrically, like moving blobs of space with texture all together, all of them just the natural world doing its rich and empty thing.

Any of that help?


I think I get the gist.

Is it unusual for a sakadagami to have trouble with the arupa jhanas? I've gotten the impression that once you hit second path, you just have immediate access to all 8 jhanas, and the fact that I struggle with them is a bit unnerving. I have easy access to 4j5j as you describe above. I know exactly what you're talking about. It's hard for me to stabilize 5th and 6th jhanas, though. I get into them, but I feel like I get kicked out easily. I wonder if it would be a lot easier if I were on retreat or even better, in review on retreat.

And thank you again. I'm going to do my best to keep these points in mind (though not obsessively) in the coming weeks as I continue to run the whole thing through the vipassana mill.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
9/16/12 5:34 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Hi Tommy. I'm glad you remember me. You did a good job placing me on the map when we first corresponded. I think things were confusing back then because I was experiencing what I called "depersonalization". That's happened on and off along the way, but your assessment that I was at 3rd ñana was correct.

I don't want to go into a super amount of detail about why I think I'm 2nd path. There's some of that in my reply to Daniel if you're curious. I'm happy to answer this bit, though:

It'd be good to know when you think you got Path, what sort of things have changed since then experientially, as well as some details on how your sits currently play out in terms of phenomenology. I'm not confident that you've got 2nd path which is why I'll avoid giving any specific advice related to 3rd right now, I'm not saying that I expect you to convince me or anything but I'd like to be able to help as much as I can and knowing more about your practice right now would make that easier.


So you're right that I worked very hard. I got 1st path first week of April. I got 2nd path second week of June. Yes, there was cycling both times I was in review. That happened until I hit the A&P of the next path, at which point it was like driving a car through mud again.

Experiential changes: this is an interesting question. I don't want to go into a whole lot of detail about my life on a public forum, but I will say that those "depersonalization" experiences I mentioned back in January have become more frequent but less threatening. I still don't know if they're part of the path as described by Mahasi. They show up (off the cushion) more often when I'm in certain parts of the cycle. So I'll be going about my business, and it's suddenly very, very clear that ... some weird thing is implied about subject/object, though it's impossible to put it into words. It's a bit eerie and disturbing: it's like a movie is playing in an empty movie theater, and it's entirely unclear who or what knows this. Hard to describe.

Probably the most obvious effect of having gone through the whole process of unraveling the whole thing is that it's harder to take certain things seriously anymore. I remember right after stream-entry, I likened it to learning what a mirage is. After you learn what a mirage is, you still see what appears to be water in the distance. You still even have the craving for water when you see it. But you're much less likely to run toward it. Analogously, just being able to see clearly in real-time that one sensation is not able to perceive another sensation didn't put a stop to the process of selfing (though for a period of about 2 weeks it nearly seemed to stop!). But there's only so far it seems able to go at this point before another part of the mind-complex kicks in and says, "But of course all this is an illusion at the deepest level!"

I'll admit that I hit a spot every week or two where I seem almost unable to access this wisdom. During that time, meditation generally sucks, and I'm contending with a lot of unpleasant sensations. I feel like I'm eventually able to resolve this, and then things are a lot lighter again, but I'm starting to get the impression that I have very little to do with this, and the quicker I accept that, the sooner I'll lighten my load.

Anyway, none of this really answers whether I've gotten second or even first path. Sorry! As I mentioned above, I do work with teachers who monitor my practice and progress. If you're able to offer any advice on the - I admit - ungrounded assumption that I've indeed done all this work and haven't just learned to use the words, I would appreciate it. Practice does seem to have turned a corner since the last Whatever That Was, and I find my fixation on the maps and knowledge in general is being challenged.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
9/16/12 8:25 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
9/16/12 9:57 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
For 3rd path , you should abandon Kāma-rāga (Sensuous craving) and Byāpāda(Ill will) by seeing the stress inherent
in them. Both of these should not arise ( as distinct from arising but not causing any trouble )
While there is just excellent practice advice in MTCB, I suggest not to water down anything and settle
for MTCB style paths.
I haven't done it so far because its a tenacious one , especially when you have to live in the society but chipping it
all one piece at a time.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
9/17/12 12:26 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
This won't help until you are 3rd path but I want to remind you that there is a stage that occurs post-3rd path but before Arahanthood. It is good to bring it to attention, I don't hear many (any) people talking about it:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/2052274


Also why does this all bug you? It sounds like you are making amazing progress!! You don't need to do anything special to get 3rd path. Just practice as normal, pretend it's all linear, because in a way it is.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
9/17/12 7:46 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Thank you.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
9/17/12 7:56 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Update: I read over all this a couple times. I sat this morning. Here's what happened.

I decided not to note this time or in general try anything at all except to just pay attention to what is happening in the most inclusive, impartial way possible, knowing that the sit would probably go into uncomfortable territory, and if it does, to try to be even more inclusive, not less. I half-expected nothing to happen, but what's there to lose?

I wasn't paying attention to any ñanas/jhanas. I just operated from the assumption that, wherever I was, I had to see as directly as possible into the nature of what was happening, as it was happening.

About 25 mins in, I kept coming back to this implicit identification with attention, perceiving over and over how there was this tendency to identify at the level of where I want my attention to go, how I perceive that, and how "I control" that. I could see the tendency to identify it with the visual field, as though the mind were a set of eyeballs moving to this thing or that. So instead, I watched the attention move (for example into the body) and watched the feeling of the visual field fall away as this happened, so I could see the generally de-centered nature of attention, that it wasn't bound up with sensations in the head but was something else entirely, and as I did this, there was some event I Do Not Know What, and I was jolted out of the experience, opened my eyes, and felt very, very weird.

I actually don't know if it was a cessation. It may not have been. My body was buzzing, but the feeling was more like where you almost fall off a cliff and then stop yourself right before you do. Or you almost stepped out in front of a car, but someone pulled you back in time. There was an adrenaline rush. Or maybe I just had a fruition. I don't know. It was not terribly blissful, but there was a perception for maybe half a second or so, just at that moment that I opened my eyes, like things were completely unraveled but then quickly came back together.

I was kind of excited after that, so I spent the last 15 mins settling down and then got back to a similar state of letting go and observing and observing observation before I had to stop to get ready for work.

I find it interesting that as soon as I let go of the maps, let go of the noting, let go of the explicit desire to manipulate and control, let go of the desire to know what was happening, this other weird layer rose to the surface, like it had wanted to be seen, but the rigidity of my practice was keeping it at bay. I won't say the experience was totally nice, but at least it's different, which is all I wanted.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
9/17/12 5:14 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Ah, cool! Nice one!

I didn't realize you'd been working with Kenneth and Beth, but if they've been keeping an eye out and confirming this stuff then I have no reason to doubt that. I was just curious given how new you were to this back in January and I hadn't kept up with your practice, hopefully my comments about doubting your claims weren't taken wrongly, I just wanted to make sure you had your bearings but you sound like you're well on your way.

As far as quick progress goes, the same is true for me too but I'd had like 10+ years of other meditative practices and suchlike behind me. That you've gotten Path at all is awesome, but if you've gotten 2nd then that's fantastic and you're clearly inclined towards this stuff. I think the replies the rest of the folks have given will be more than enough to keep you going, and I appreciate you taking the time to reply.

Best of luck!

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
9/18/12 8:01 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Thanks, Tommy.

I would attribute my success to (a) excellent teachers and (b) busting my hump.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
9/18/12 12:01 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
I would attribute my success to (a) excellent teachers and (b) busting my hump.


A delicious combination!

Fitter, I just wanted to say that this thread is really helpful. I'm also a student of Kenneth and Beth, and also now gunning for 3rd Path. So thanks for starting it.

Daniel's list of pointers is fantastic, as is the advice from Tarin that Nik linked to. Thanks everyone.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
10/19/12 5:27 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Thought I'd bump this post up because (a) there's useful stuff in here about the middle paths, and (b) update:

I reached a point in the practice where it was apparent that the difference between present-centered and focused on the sensations themselves versus being scattered, daydreaming, fantasizing, and the rest was not a difference between having a strong will or a weak will. There was no agency in it. It was just a difference between having a calm mind versus having a jacked up mind. This rather pedestrian-sounding insight was useful for two reasons:

1. I stopped feeling bad about my inability to concentrate. Feeling bad usually sucks, so anything that reduces that is nice.
2. It was one more level at which I was perceiving, even if not crystal-clearly, that there is no agency directing things from the so-called center.
3. It made me realize I had to let go of the Carl-Weathers-in-Predator-style noting and bring more samatha into the practice.

So, after consulting a few sources, and after trying a few things on the cushion, I retooled my practice in the following way:

1. I sit down and acquaint myself with the breath. Some days this just isn't going to happen in a steady way. Okay. So I note. But often, after maybe 20 mins, I can get pretty close to the breath without falling asleep.
2. Feel the breath in the whole body. In other words, the whole body is breathing. For some reason, this makes a difference as opposed to just following the breath. I don't know why. Maybe it's because the sensations of the breath are now amplified, like they're thrown up on a movie screen.
3. Pay really careful attention to what follows, even/especially those pleasant feelings that want to pull me in.

What I've discovered is that this allows insight to occur, but at a much, much higher resolution. It's like when you were a kid and went from an EGA game to a super VGA game. Wow!

For one thing, the vipassana jhanas look a lot different when you toss in more samatha. If you're noting your ass off, the jhanas arise, of course, but it's exceedingly edgy, and it's hard to get any of the positive aspects of it. For instance, 2nd VJ/A&P looks like movie frames when you're noting. You easily see the body is not solid, that it's made up of these coarse snapshots that are constantly interrupted by other snapshots in experience. Experience looks like a split-flap display. Admittedly, this is pretty cool the first time it happens.

But my experience is very different when I'm more calm/concentrated but keeping a comparable level of insight going. It sneaks up on me at first, but soon there's the unmistakable impression of the entire body vibrating like a bell that's just been struck. I had never noticed this before and had hitherto been bemused by descriptions of "vibrations", but now I get it. The more you sink into them, the more intense they become, and they change with the phase of the breath. Not only that, but if you open your eyes, the entire room is synchronized with the vibrations in the body. Throughout all of this, the three characteristics are crystal clear. There's none of the corruptions of insight here.

The other rupa jhanas present differently, too. One of the really significant things about this approach is that there's really no dark night, unless you kind of fall off the samatha wagon, and then you're hit with it. But if you can stay with all its weirdness, it's a not-unpleasant combination of exhilaration and bliss that eventually tips over into the poised clarity of the 4th.

Obviously meditating this way makes it so much easier to get to the arupa jhanas. If all you know is chain-gun-style noting, you don't have a prayer of getting into those tight corners. It was a difficult transition for me, and I had to retrain the mind to get to that resolution, but I'm now confident 5 and 6 are showing up, less confident on 7 and 8 but confident I'll eventually get there.

I don't feel like getting the jhanas themselves is that important in and of itself. The reason I'm able to get the jhanas is simple: I let a big piece of the sense of agency fall away, a piece which had hitherto been making me too fucking anxious to do jhana. If I understand all the advice I've been given, it's that falling away which is the real step forward, and actually getting the VJ is a very nice side-effect of that.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
10/19/12 6:47 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
What an incredibly lucid thread this is! Thanks to everyone who contributed and thanks for the follow-up, Fitter Stoke. Here are some thoughts:

Fitter Stoke:
(something about depersonalization) So I'll be going about my business, and it's suddenly very, very clear that ... some weird thing is implied about subject/object, though it's impossible to put it into words. It's a bit eerie and disturbing: it's like a movie is playing in an empty movie theater, and it's entirely unclear who or what knows this. Hard to describe.

Whoa. I know you wrote that it's hard to describe, but can you try to go into more detail about the stuff I bolded?

Fitter Stoke:
(...) being able to see clearly in real-time that one sensation is not able to perceive another sensation didn't put a stop to the process of selfing.

I dunno if this is a reliable indication of progress, but I've had a few incidents of the bolded stuff, and it really scratches my metaphysical itch emoticon

Fitter Stoke:
I reached a point in the practice where it was apparent that the difference between present-centered and focused on the sensations themselves versus being scattered, daydreaming, fantasizing, and the rest was not a difference between having a strong will or a weak will. There was no agency in it. It was just a difference between having a calm mind versus having a jacked up mind.

Ah yes. I've been trying to loosen that knot for something like 6 months now (no sitting practice). Interesting conclusion, it makes sense to me. I've actually been trying to be rid of scattered-mindedness, daydreaming and fantasizing altogether, but maybe that's barking up the wrong tree.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
11/9/12 10:11 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
So right after writing this, I had a really good one-day retreat. I hit the ground running and immediately entered the first and second jhanas. The first couple hours were an amazing bliss-fest that continued even while I was doing walking meditation. I'm not accustomed to remaining in jhana during walking meditation. I usually just note in a general way. But this time the positive feeling was just gorgeous, all-encompassing, and amazing. The mind felt incredibly supple and finely attuned to the three characteristics but in a way that wasn't at all edgy.

Then there was some kind of shift, and my concentration flagged for several hours. It was really hard to tell where I was on the map, and after a couple hours of this, I just started noting. I amused myself with the image of a car that had broken down in the middle of a field and having to get out and push (note) the thing to the nearest gas station.

A little while after that, the intense dark night stuff started coming up - extreme physical discomfort, wanting it to be over, etc. - and I got really happy and excited here because I was obviously in familiar territory and knew I just had to make it over the hump of reobservation. And reobservation did not disappoint: it was about a 20 minute cycling of physical and emotional discomfort. But I just diligently noted through the sludge, didn't take it personally, etc., and it lifted and I was in Equanimity.

Oh, and right before this, I had a remarkable experience with walking meditation. As I mentioned, I usually just note through walking meditation, but this time I tuned into the experience of the body as a whole as I was walking. I was putting a lot more samatha into the practice, and pretty soon I could feel the whole thing vibrating, just like it is when I'm on the cushion and doing my jhanas, and I realized, okay, the mind has just gotten a lot more subtle, a new layer of this is showing up, I think something is about to happen. And when I sat down, that's when I tipped over into Equanimity.

Unfortunately this was the last 20 minutes of the retreat. I thought this was unfortunate, because I would have liked to have explored the arupa jhanas from here, but then I thought, eff it, let's see how fast I can get through the arupa jhanas!

And I mean, I usually angst over these jhanas and always feel unsure about them, always lacking confidence, so to even feel okay attempting something like this was a step in the right direction. And I just blasted through them. I said, "infinite space" to myself, and the 5th one came up. When that had gone out a ways, I said, "infinite consciousness" and just let the mind go outward until it seemed to bounce back at me like a loop, and then I said, "nothingness", and the lights went out, and it was like my mind was tipping over the edge of my skull into the "space" in which infinite space and consciousness had manifested a moment ago, but there was ... nothing there. Every time something specific arose, it would slip out or slip away or something, so I was just out-of-phase with stuff, like it's described in the book. And then I was really uncertain about the 8th one, so I figured I'd just sit in the 7th one for awhile and let that go where it wanted to, which is really hard to describe, because there's nothing there anyway.

And then for the coup de grace I said, "Fruition will now arise," and about 30 seconds later, there was some kind of hard knock or jolt that seemed almost to launch me out of my chair. It was completely spontaneous, and I'm not even sure if it was actually a fruition, because I seemed to come right back down into the same jhana I was in as opposed to cycling back, but it was hard to care, because I felt like the Ron-fucking-Swanson of jhanas at the moment. And then the retreat was over, so I let it all go, but I still felt very jhana-y for the next 10 minutes.

I thought, "Wow, I'm really nailing this stuff. I bet my meditation is just going to get better and better now," but I didn't meditate for about two and a half weeks after that! I just really didn't feel like it. If my mind got messy, I just tuned into experience in an open, general way, and things quieted down. Here's the body ... here's space ... it's fine. If I started doing some light noting, things seemed to get complex really quickly, and I'd have to put the noting down. But then I'd just forget what I was doing and go on to something else.

I discussed it with my teacher, and she thinks I got the third path. I admit that this hypothesis would explain some things, like why my meditation ramped up, got so fucking powerful, and then suddenly it felt like there was nothing left to do, and now I come back, and things are kind of solid again. She also has high standards for these things, so I'm inclined to believe her. However, I always expect these things are going to be so much more. I especially expected third path to entail some dramatic lifting of the sludge of life off me, that I'd suddenly have a much easier time at life, relationships and emotions would be easy, and I'd miraculously know how to fix airplane engines or do brain surgery. In fact I feel mostly the same way.

The net result of all this is cautious optimism and a "let's wait and see" attitude. These things have a way of looking clearer in the rear-view mirror and in the context of subsequent practice. But I thought I'd share these new, interesting results since people were so helpful when I posed my initial set of questions a few months ago. And insofar as the answers to those questions contributed in one way or another to my own creative approach to all this, I offer you my thanks.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
1/27/14 2:48 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
This is my favorite thread on this topic and I've reread it over and over trying to understand all Daniels advice...Still not there yet.
I wanted to point out the things that I could understand and used as specific practices that I engaged in to shift my baseline.
Daniel M. Ingram:
2) Going wide and through: as third is more spacious, more about dissolving a significant chunk of what seems to be observing, doing, controlling, analyzing, and the like, you both have to take on more of the sensations that seem to be all of that, which they aren't, and also see how to dissolve the artificial boundaries that seem to delineate that from everything else, meaning the rest of what happens in what seems to be space. Play on that line: how do you know what the edge between what seems to be you and not you is, viscerally, perceptually, vibrationally, texturally, geographically, volumetrically? Any quality that you notice seems to really feel like it means it is you, see the Three Characteristics of that.

Fitter Stoke:
2. Feel the breath in the whole body. In other words, the whole body is breathing. For some reason, this makes a difference as opposed to just following the breath. I don't know why. Maybe it's because the sensations of the breath are now amplified, like they're thrown up on a movie screen.

I wish I could find and quote from Fitters??? practice journal on KFD as it stuck in my head but I can't find it. It was about the center point and outside diameter of the perception of self.
Practice-
1) I really played with noticing the center point of what seemed to be "me". This was hard as I could not solidify this sense. It always seemed vague and slippery and would move around from stomach to heart to third eye and seemed to be more chakras than really a sense of "me". I applied the 3 C's anyway.

2) The outside Diameter was a totally different experience. In investigating this it really seemed to arise and solidify nicely. sometimes on the skin, sometimes just above the skin and sometimes my personal bubble around me. The three characteristics are super easy to explore with the personal bubble...just step into a stranger's space and feel the discomfort/stress/dukkha arise, step away and see how it fades/impermanent and notice that it's not you, just an idea/pattern/process that is running telling you this is "my" space. (Yes this is creepy to do to someone without saying something like "excuse me are you using that weight/pencil/whatever?") Besides you only need to do this several times before you know the feeling and can bring it up for investigation and apply Daniel's advice of how do you know what the edge between what seems to be you and not you is, viscerally, perceptually, vibrationally, texturally, geographically, volumetrically.

3) To notice the space between the center point and outside bubble, just follow the breath in the whole body. Feel space from the beginning compressed state to the expansion of the outside limit and see if there is any perception of the "my space" between these limits. Investigate per Daniel's list above and apply the three C's.

4) Additionally I would always start the meditation with happiness/loving kindness and use it to move me to second vip jhana, let go if it and move to vibrational third then let go and spend as much time in EQ as possible.

One last piece of advice, if you can shift your focus by looking off in the distance with a "thousand yard stare" such that your peripheral vision is being used and you can see your nose and edges of your vision at the same time; your hands take on the quality of doing their own things and it seems like some self drops away/non-dual gets stronger, Do this a lot and get comfortable with this...it will be your new baseline without needing to use any effort to maintain. (my experience was I could do this in the honeymoon phase post 1st path but faded, became accessible all the time second path with effort)
Hopes this helps,
~D

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
1/27/14 8:58 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Go, Pawel! Go, Pawel! emoticon

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
1/28/14 9:31 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
I want to say this is my favorite thread on this topic too, but the more I read this stuff, the more I realize that I don't undetstand any of these terms at all. I don't know; maybe I'm just dumped, but really what are these things about space? About me, not me, and everything else. It makes me more confused.

If I just do what I have been doing in previous path whatever it is, is this not going to work for third? (a serious question really)

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
1/28/14 1:35 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Paweł K:
have you tried to bring all spaces, all me and not_me regions into one space that can contain everything all while being none of it and not identified with anything that is in it?
try to 'put' everything into such space and see if it helps or not

I am reminded by Ramana Maharshi's simile "the stick that stirs the fire and is consumed by it" Just Stop: When Awareness Surrenders to Itself by Kenneth Folk
It must be very frustrating to people who have burnt their stick up that others do not just throw their whole stick in the fire at once and be done with it. Your advice is excellent but to continue the simile I can not currently see the whole stick. Only the portion that is in the fire can I see with enough clarity to keep it there and as it burns down more of it becomes visible. This is very frustrating to me too. I know there is more stick and would love nothing more than to toss it in and be done with it. In my above post I wanted to capture this slice of the stick that I had visibility to and phenomenologically describe the current practice that lent visibility and describe the results of having done so.
I currently feel like I am in stage 2.16 except the fruitions don't have the same bliss wave after them like the first path ones did. I have no idea what that means besides added confusion. I am enjoying the baseline shift and the break that I am getting; it feels like the bus that I have been on for years has gone back to the bus barn and is gassing up for the next ride.
I had a dream where I went thru multiple levels/state changes and the last one left me looking into the space where the self?/something? used to be. I took it as advice of where to look next and explore...seems mighty similar to aspects of your advice and Daniels advice from above.
1) If you have any additional advice that can lend visibility to what you mean by "spaces" "all me" not-me" it might help.
2)What specific practice allowed you visibility to these things/not-things/everythings?
3)What were the results of these practices?
(You're pointing at the moon and I'm asking about your finger....sorry)
Thanks for your advice, time and effort.
~D

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
1/28/14 8:27 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
I kind of get what Pawel is saying but I think it's better at your stage to be equanmous to all phenomena (thinking/paying attention - which does feel like something/body sensations/anything) and let it all be observed. Thinking is trying to control things by thinking conceptually about doing before the actual doing. Treat the thoughts the same way as you treat sensations. This means that you need to explore what thinking feels like so it isn't separate from any other sensations. What does paying attention feel like? What does the intention to pay attention feel like? Is there any aversion to your practice, even in minute ways?

So sensations at the back of the head or forehead or neck or thinking or strategizing meditation practice or analyzing the results of meditation practice is just more sensations. If you can note those things and then try and just be with bare attention of those things and drop the noting.

Then notice vibrations and waves of all phenomena and how the brain likes to put the vibrations together into objects to like or dislike. Watch them disintegrate on their own. Any analysis of the practice and progress is just more sensations.

I hope that helps.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
1/29/14 6:40 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Something i didn't notice before is that noting deals with the 4th path directly.
4th path is skandha of volition.

For example: You are reading a book then people next to you start to chating with eachother and this will start annoy you, stress rises.

Book here is skhanda of form- 1st path
The feeling of annoy is skandha of feeling- 2nd path
Your abilty to know who is "quilty" of this stress is skandha of perception-3th path
Skandha of volition is your abilty to realize that its your wanting/will to read is the cause of stress(this annoyance).- 4th path
This 4th path is permanent change. Wisdom that your wantings are the cause of your all issues.
But even if its permanet when you try to do something still you will get angry when someone annoys you.

Imho there is no centerpoint, no doer, no agent- is skandha of volition. Also after this 4th path no need to note anymore because noting itself is "your need to do something to attain something". So to note skillfully to this point is to note everything no-self, impermanet and suffering.

edit: will play this scanario hundreds of times, circling.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
1/29/14 11:32 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Do what Pawel and Richard suggest, exactly as written.

Understanding must become wider in scope and deeper. You can get depth by bringing more samatha to the practice (see above re: upgrading the graphics card on your mind). Scope is more difficult. Basically, whatever the mind fixates on, that has to be seen through. It's common to get worked up over maps, models, and "Where am I?" here. Throw it in the hopper. Shine the light on it, see through it. Is the mind really caught up in something, seemingly lost in rumination with intense feeling? Jackpot. Shine the light on it as it's happening. Light up the dimension of now in what seems to be something about the past or future. (If you don't catch it while it's happening, make a mental note to yourself to catch it next time.)

The directive about letting the waves of 5th jhana or even 4th jhana work through any sense of a centerpoint, doer, or perceive - all on their own - is a very good one. Simply doing that enough times will have an effect.

Remember how to get stream entry, basic acts of attention, concentration, focus, desire for mastery, and practice itself had to get thrown in the hopper? Up in equanimity ñana? That's gotta happen on a massive scale now. You'll think of yourself as he-who-needs-to-get-enlightened, with the practice as the centerpoint/point of the spear, the mind/will as the doer, and x path as the goal. Third path involves the decomposition of that structure with its sense of centerpoint and direction, which is a big part of why there's a baseline, off-the-cushion shift here where there wasn't in previous paths. Richard's instruction about looking at all the thoughts and feelings - that are happening right now and can only ever happen right now - that seem to be about practice (but which are really just happening right here, on their own) is spot-on.

But basically, yeah, put everything in the same space and watch what it does. Does it seem like something is resisting going in? Well that's really interesting, because you're pretty sure it's already in there, right? How could it not be? So it must only appear like it's not in there. Check that out. And while you're at it, why does it feel like there's anyone or anything that would be able to PUT anything into something anyway? Weird. See that through.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
1/30/14 1:47 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
One last piece of advice, if you can shift your focus by looking off in the distance with a "thousand yard stare" such that your peripheral vision is being used and you can see your nose and edges of your vision at the same time; your hands take on the quality of doing their own things and it seems like some self drops away/non-dual gets stronger, Do this a lot and get comfortable with this...it will be your new baseline without needing to use any effort to maintain. (my experience was I could do this in the honeymoon phase post 1st path but faded, became accessible all the time second path with effort)

Ok, the penny just dropped and I am laughing my a$$ off at myself. I was talking to Florian on the chat line a while ago after second path and telling him about the "thousand yard stare"/nondual/less self state and he said to do this a lot. I took the advice seriously and as I like "altered" states I played around with it a whole lot. I never considered it meditation practice. I was just screwing around like it was a game and wanted to play with what the rules were. Besides, when you "get" a superpower (lol) from a path I can not help but play with it, am I right? So what did I explore? All the great advice that is written above.
Paweł K:
have you tried to bring all spaces, all me and not_me regions into one space that can contain everything all while being none of it and not identified with anything that is in it?
try to 'put' everything into such space and see if it helps or not

Pawel's advice was only confusing because when shifting states it is all self evident without labels in that "state". So first you need to shift focus to this "state". If you have no idea about this then everything above and following will make no sense. Go outside or look out the window and look towards the horizon. Open your peripheral vision to include the edges of your vision. Use your fingers to find the edges the first time by wiggling them at the very edge of the corners of your vision. Now stop having a actual focal point in the center. Take it all in relaxingly. Notice the nose and eye-ridges are visible without refocusing your eyes in any way. Notice your eyelashes. Rest your hands in front of you so they are part of the perspective. Now stop breaking it down to things and just let it take on an all inclusive, one thing quality. Practice this without moving at first. Add walking meditation to it. Practice this in other scenarios.

Here is my off the cushion "so called" practice explained -
1) Shift "states" so that everything is in one space, open and wide, clear, inclusive
2) Notice the differences of the "state" vs before. Notice the quietness of thought and how the selfing processes/identification seem quieter. Notice the obvious no self qualities. Notice your hands doing their own thing- driving, washing dishes and typing were very visible examples.
3) It took effort to create and stay in this "state". Look at the effort itself....explore this in every way as mentioned above. Notice the subtle stress in the effort.
4) Release the effort, drop out of the "state" fast as well as slowly and notice the old baseline state with its attributes come back. Notice the differences. Apply the impermanence characteristic to the differences.
5) Repeat throughout the day as much as you can every day. Had I known the importance of this stuff I'd have set a 15 minute timer to remind me to shift more often.
I hope this clarifies stuff...reread the thread after trying this stuff and see what you think.
Thanks everyone for the great advice, sorry I am so obtuse at times. When it clicks it clicks...even after the fact sometimes

As I mentioned before, this so called "altered state" is my new permanent (so far) baseline. On the cushion and off the cushion. I still get wrapped up in thoughts and don't notice the shift but it is always there. I don't have a feeling of "returning" to it after a thought...more like the thought is the anomaly. I've noticed that my mind-states also don't affect this state. I notice the effects of blood sugar dropping and notice my thought processes getting sluggish without it touching the baseline in any way. Emotional states happen, mind-states happen, thinking happens but they don't touch the baseline, merely obscure it briefly to some extent. At the first pause they slip away. Good stuff. I think it worth the effort.

Good luck all,
~D.

RE: Looking for help getting to 3rd path
Answer
2/2/14 7:09 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
I kind of get what Pawel is saying but I think it's better at your stage to be equanmous to all phenomena (thinking/paying attention - which does feel like something/body sensations/anything) and let it all be observed. Thinking is trying to control things by thinking conceptually about doing before the actual doing. Treat the thoughts the same way as you treat sensations. This means that you need to explore what thinking feels like so it isn't separate from any other sensations. What does paying attention feel like? What does the intention to pay attention feel like? Is there any aversion to your practice, even in minute ways?

So sensations at the back of the head or forehead or neck or thinking or strategizing meditation practice or analyzing the results of meditation practice is just more sensations. If you can note those things and then try and just be with bare attention of those things and drop the noting.

Then notice vibrations and waves of all phenomena and how the brain likes to put the vibrations together into objects to like or dislike. Watch them disintegrate on their own. Any analysis of the practice and progress is just more sensations.

I hope that helps.


Thanks for this advice (and other ones from others as well). It seemed I have caught in low-energy/ sleepiness/laziness state for many weeks now. Your post just motivated me to look at the experience again somehow. Do things without thinking (or more like worrying) about them sounds great, and I will try that.

I have a couple of questions though.

1) You mention drop the noting. Is this really for third? I'm confused from the post that follows. I don't note all the times, as that seemed to create aversion rather than being with experiences completely. However, occasional note helps put perspective into things.

2) On being equanimous with everything. I read the book "the end of your world" by Adya, and he seemed to suggest to feel whatever emotions/ thoughts needed to be felt (whatever you are identifying with). That sounds, to my experience, exactly opposite to being equanimous. I mean sure after that stuff passes, it becomes easy to be equanimous, but while that happens, definitely not although it has been very helpful to listen to myself completely with compassion.