Fire Kasina Results and Afterglow

Wow. Fire kasina is amazing practice. Very heady stuff. Afterglow is thick, rich, and heavy.

I used my fancy oil lamp, which gives a bright, steady flame and no wax to deal with. I sat in a chair, in the dark of predawn, except the blinds were open, the snow and ice were falling outside and the white ground reflected snowlight back up into my room—like a soft white nimitta.

Usually I see the red dot. This time, not really ever a stable red dot—more like threads of bright red briefly. Predominant color was a beautiful ice blue, pale gorgeous blue—the color of a pale blue lace dress I used to wear at age 20 to shoot pool in, just to distract the guys, just to get ’em off their secondary game.  This blue became a nimitta, but it kept fluxing, blooming, spreading, moving, unfolding, pealing back like flower petals being ripped off. This was some time after I passed through third jhana, which I knew by

inability to focus on the flame itself but only on the glare in the periphery, as well as by the nausea, which indicates Disgust:.

3sj.8ñ ← I hope this is a thing, Daniel. (I’m practicing using the new stages/states notation system from draft MCTB2.)

So on to fourth jhana, which was so magnificent that the challenge became resisting absorption into everything but the visuals. I was really at one point so deep into the spaciousness and the silkily disappearing breath that I forgot about the flame and visions. The afterglow was a-glowing without waiting for the session to end.

With eyes closed, I seemed to see in 3D into this ice blue forest of unfoldings. I saw leaves with veins floating down some water and then purple jelly fish, the lovely ballerina kind. It was an underwater scene—hey, Nick’s LAKE!! Just maybe. . . . Oh, wait. No jellies in lakes, just naked dharma boyfriend versions of nymphs, right?

I felt like I had a fruition somewhere in here, out of fourth: There was a forgetting, a leap forward, an out, and a wave of bliss. I was so deliciously off task, haha. 11n.4sj.5sj. and then it was on to fifth, and the seduction of this bodiless state was really too much.

Anyway, I’m going to try to do this practice some more. The afterglow is amazing, among other things.

Summary of Jhāna Development to Steph

Hi, Steph. I’m so glad you joined us! Maybe the gals here can fulfill the social secretary role so many women find themselves in everywhere, for patriarchal reasons or whatever reasons—and start a DhU retreat tradition! Followed, of course, by a hedonistic afterparty that involves intelligent dance music!

About my jhana development—I had to work off jhanas as platforms because vipassana was too harsh for me. I have a fragile brain—rare migraine condition in which I experience multiple bizarre “auras,” or neurological deficits. After I encountered MCTB and crossed the A&P Event soon thereafter, I literally lost normal vision. I had metamorphosopia, warped vision so bad that I couldn’t read, as if funhouse mirrors surrounded me, only not fun. I was like that for 6 weeks, and the first time I chatted with Daniel was from the ER where he went to medical school, because of the persistent aura I got while using his book, hahahahaha. (I was later to find out that he and I were both earning English degrees during the exact same years, in the same building, 25 years ago! Moreover, he recently showed me a picture of himself back then, with long curls, and I remember him! Small world!) Anyway, yeah, I zapped my brain and had to back off and build up that nice, calming samatha and practice vipassana from within or out on top of them.

I had a natural proclivity to see the 3Cs, so my jhanas were soft and went up to fourth before first path. Right after first path, I suddenly had formless realms (5 and later 6), often hard. Nothingness I got only since the new year, I think, and I find it really hard to stabilize—easy to fall out of for the reasons you say. What I do is let sixth really develop and then narrow my focus a lot, narrow in on where not much seems to be happening. However, I invariably start noticing some flickering or strobing, and then I think about that and fall out. I just haven’t practiced much with it.

MCTB2 (I’m Dan’s developmental editor, in case you didn’t know) says that Neither Perception Nor Yet Nonperception is actually easier to stabilize than Nothingness, if I’m remembering correctly. Well, I heard it somewhere, at any rate. I hit that only for the first time last night, and wow is it strange! The sheer weirdness of it made my attention turn on itself, which knocked me out of it. The merest attention to anything demolishes this state—that I know I read in MCTB2 (we are working on the Jhana chapter right now).

I practiced a bit with fire kasina after stream entry, when I was suddenly obsessed with powers. I’d like to try it again. I’ve not had time to listen to the podcast about Florian, Duncan, and Daniel, but maybe this weekend. Perhaps we can start a fire kasina practice thread here and report our challenges and progress—like a support group!

Formless Realms and the Sense Sphere

So, if anything, it is deepening, settling in, chasing itself down every last circuit.

Tonight—really hard jhanas, including formless realms, through sixth, Boundless Consciousness (j6), which I stayed in longer than I did the others. Incredibly rich and solid. Around this point in time, I felt no intention gap before or after action. This is a dream-like marionette effect. It is smoothing out and becoming less “creepy.” Months ago it had a harsh, ratcheting effect and was creepy.

Got seventh (j7). Got eighth (j8), which is some kind of flippin’ weird, like being caught between a light shorting on and a thunder clap popping it off, so, yeah, the name for the state (Neither Perception nor Yet Nonperception)  is appropriate. There is something like electrical shorting about it. I will need to stabilize these two states. I’m not able to hold them long before falling out of them, but I’m definitely hitting them.

I went up the jhanic arc over about 50 minutes from first to eighth. Then I came down through each one rather quickly. When I arrived back down at second, the flashing scattering lights started up, as in A&P.

During the day, I continue to be completely enraptured with the sensual world. Life is shining from within things, an engulfment by light. I now know why thought is considered a sixth sense.

Perceptual Shift and Daniel’s Suggestions

I had a lovely day today. I finally caught up on my sleep, although I’m a bit stressed about how much paperwork and work-work I’m behind on. I’m also beginning to miss some of the things I did before I spent almost all my spare time on MCTB2. I need to work in more exercise, sleep, and that is about it without compromising the Prime Directive.

I’m also grateful to have had this opportunity to work on this edition. I’ve learned so much from Daniel as a result, and I have enjoyed getting to know him personally.

Perceptual Shift Endures (So Far)

Anyway, I had presence and enough of a break today to really notice just how changed perception really is—how so much more of what used to be me, side with me, seems to inhere in objects, vivifying them and making them direct, one with apprehension.

Music is something I feel almost tactilely now, somehow because distance is a fiction of the past. The sound actually has texture, feeling. The snow and little licks of green grass that poke through glisten with aliveness. I stood at twilight and stared down at them for some long, quiet minutes. Meanwhile, my body and body field have that intense sort of “gone” feeling characteristic of Boundless Space (j5). One way that I know I got a path is that this constant Boundless Space feeling has not been this strong since right after my first path.

Daniel’s Suggestions

At the end of our recent call, which was about an hour long, I talked to Daniel briefly about this shift. He had heard from Tommy [while they were on the kasina retreat in Scotland] that I thought I got another path. I told him that the shift came days before the cession-fruition. He stated that, yeah, it is a somewhat academic question whether shifts bring about the path fruition, or vice-versa.

I told him my new hobby was staring, and he laughed the laugh of the knowing. I mentioned that the night beforehand I figured out that the jhanas were no longer driving, that I was the driver now or nothing happened. I told him I can call them up, even out of order. He was excited about that, and said, “Although the other way was good for showing no-self, this is great for moving into mastery, and mastery is good.” He went on to explain that mastering the states and stages can help even everyday life, for one can even delay or move fast through a specific stage to accommodate life demands. I told him that I suddenly found myself able to spout the dharma and meditation advice like never before. I gave some example. He said, “Nice!”

So all that grief he gave me, sneering at my first-path claim—well, none of that this time, surprisingly. Thank goodness. So much for the hazing. . . . 

Daniel suggested that I practice jhanas by trying to hold to one as long as possible, resisting the urge to bail out to the next one. Then, when I can’t hold back any longer, let fly rapidly into the next jhana. He said that this way I would be able to observe the new jhana intensely and suddenly “bloom,” that I would learn a lot of detail about the jhanas this way.

He also suggested calling up the stages of insight and intensifying them. For instance, call up Fear and see just how terrifying I can make it. He explained that when one is controlling the intense Fear, so to speak, it becomes so much less debilitating when it arises during cycling.

I’m recording all this here so that I don’t forget.

Jhāna Sit

Tonight I simply moved up the jhanas. Third (j3) was notable tonight, very clear, whereas I usually have a hard time discerning third. The coolness, the wider focus, the out-of-phase aspect, and nausea were there. Nausea is my main sign of Disgust, so there is definitely the sense now that the stages and states go on at the same time and relate to each other.

I usually miss Second these days, but I learned from the MCTB2 draft that the key to Second (j2)  is really tuning in to the pleasure. This works.

Fourth (j4) was grand. Fifth (j5) was amazing, really rich, deep, and stable. Sixth, Consciousness (j6), is very interesting, but there is something disconcerting about it.

Seventh (j7) I get by tuning into the areas of spaciousness where nothing seems to be going on. I also deliberately narrow my focus. Oddly, Nothingness does have characteristics. There is even a sense of change or sparkle in the blackness. One odd thing tonight was that a candle I had lit suddenly flared up while I was in Nothingness. I opened my eyes, and the experience of being so bodiless and far gone was impressive. I blew out the candle and returned to my sit.

I think I touched in on Eighth (j8), Neither Perception Nor Yet Nonperception. Wow, that is a weird one, and I really want to nail it and spend some time there! My Seventh and Eighth are shaky and unstable. I’ll have to work some more on them.

I tried for Pure Land 1 and even fruition. Neither happened. An hour is just not long enough for a sit anymore.

I’ve learned from this new ability to call up the states by number that they are scripted, fabricated—like everything else.

The afterglow is amazing, and it was hard to come back to reality. I’m too blissed out to sleep or write with effort enough to make results interesting. Ah, well!

Snow and Truly Cool Son

It is snowing. I just sat in the middle of the night, having had a 3-hour nap earlier when they let us off work early because of the beginning of the snowstorm. Oh, how I needed that nap.

Vagueness of Third Jhana

I started out having that strange new lateral-movement sit, but then I started noticing the following:

Third jhana I don’t perceive very clearly; it is whatever occurs between second and fourth, fourth always being very clearly fourth to me. Third is vague, which accords with what MCTB2 says.

Formless Realms

Last path the jhanas “took over” and drove. Now I’m the one deliberately fabricating them. This is why nothing has been “going anywhere” during my jhana sits – I just figured out tonight that I can and have to make them what they are. Once I figured this out tonight, I found that I can call up the jhanas out of order, by number. Wow!

Boundless Space is there for the inclination.

There is a boundary between the outer edge of this “bubble” of space around me and the “rest” of space beyond that. I need to come back and investigate this boundary again.

Boundless Consciousness is easily there for the inclination. This state is kind of exciting and therefore draining.

About the time that I got Boundless Space strong, I noticed alternately that I was in the mini-dark-night phase of Equanimity. So j5.n11.3. OMG, Daniel would be proud, yes, of my notation abilities! I just checked his mind map, and j5.n11.3 is definitely a thing! His notation system should definitely stay in the book.

I’m getting Nothingness, for sure.

I believe that if I get Neither Perception Nor Yet Nonperception, then I’ll have proper “fruitions.”

I’m having frequent “jolts” wherein little slices of time are missing, but nothing like some remarkable bliss wave. These occur during daily life too. Daniel said weeks ago not to assume such blips are fruitions; frutions, according to him, are very dramatic, “catastrophic,” are followed by a strong bliss wave, and result in a distinct feeling that all has been “reset” or “cleaned out.”

My head feels like a balloon on a trembling stalk of a neck. It feels like it will float away. In daily life, too.

Vasily

I Skyped Saturday night with this young guy, 21, named Vasily. Apparently he’s a student in Chicago. He’s a lurker on the DhO, read my journal there, and wrote to me to say that he got stream entry around the same time as I. We compared notes, which was interesting. He’s just a kid, but he told me how to get Nothingness and NPNYN. Smart kid. He said at first he was becoming obsessed with the mapping and kept writing to Daniel. Daniel finally gave him this most helpful advice: “Notice life.”

As a result, my new friend Vasily abandoned MCTB maps for Zen practice! Ha. I can’t wait to tell Daniel this. He’ll be positively appalled, haha! Anyway, Vasily said that, like me, he didn’t have any Review fruitions. He also isn’t sure, like me, that he had any Review to speak of.

He mentioned that he was much happier with Zen than with the neurotic mapping. He likes the notion that we are all already awake and that awakening is just coming to know that (realization).

We shared stories of powers opening after stream entry.

He said to me, “This is going to sound weird, but after stream entry I felt Boundless Space-y all the time!” Oh, me too! Me too!

He told me how he went for a walk in the the snow with his brother and “knew” his brother’s mind during the walk and knew exactly these instructive phrases to drop into his brother’s mind. The brother knew this was happening, too. I told my real son that I now have two spiritual sons. He said, “Maybe. But I’m still the truly cool son.”