Response to Querent about Attaining Stream Entry
The Overlapping Multitudes of Blooming Nimittas
I had been in mid-Equanimity for about 2 months. My practice at that time generally consisted of observing (with open eyes) these nimittas against the ground of my bedroom carpet. These would look kind of like blooms of color – bright violet. When they would pass away, they would look blank–black, really, like inverted blooms.
So I would just chill out and watch them form and dissolve. There would be multiple ones that overlapped, and the overlapping prevented me from getting a good look at the instant of arising and the instant of passing away (until the SE event, immediately before which they synced up perfectly for the first time).
The Arising of Great Faith
The nights before SE, several things happened that I believe set me up for the event. One was simply intense arising of faith. I think this was spontaneous, mostly, but I do remember that I had been reflecting a lot on the A&P experience of July 2013 and remembering how powerful that was, how neatly it and the subsequent stages matched MCTB descriptions, and I just really felt that there was no way it was not going to happen. This said, I also felt distinctly no rush for it to happen.
In fact, you might almost say that the main fruit of the faith was that I stopped looking for stream entry. I just enjoyed Equanimity, and that is, from one perspective, all I set out to do.
The MCTB “Equanimity” Chapter
The next condition was that I reread the MCTB chapter on Equanimity for some clues, a few nights beforehand, I think, and I fastened on this one statement, “Ask yourself what you still aren’t seeing clearly.”
It was clear to me that I had not investigated my self. So, as tedious as I knew it would be, I started conducting a systematic interior search for those sensations that told me I was or had a self. Very frustrating! I was using an old Tibetan survey way of doing this type of meditation but quickly decided to give up because I couldn’t find “me” and the search was causing, well, suffering. This type of analytical meditation is sometimes called affirming the negative. It is a way to realize emptiness of self, which is to say the interdependent co-arising of all phenomena, transient instant by transient instant.
The Object Field as My Perpetual Creator
Well, as soon as I tired of looking for my essence in my body-mind, I returned my gaze to the pleasant teal-colored walls of my bedroom (exterior object) – BAM! There was my sense of self! I suddenly felt very solidly and calmly “Jenny” as soon as I stopped looking for Jenny and just identified with something over there that I was in the habit of finding attractive.
This was the major insight that set SE up. Even with this experience, I didn’t quite know what I had until X_X said to me (via the DhO), “Yes, subjects and objects actually create each other.” These were the words for what I had just seen, and they locked in the realization. After that, when I sat, I noticed very clearly the continually shifting definition of “self,” dependent always on whatever I happened to be identifying with, which, by the way, could be a state of aversion, too.
Okay, here is another cause and condition. I was following a thread on DhO wherein DreamWalker told someone else trying to attain stream entry to make a formal resolution. I hadn’t done that, but I thought, “Can’t hurt.” So, the night before SE, at the end of the sit, when my faith was very strong yet not urgent, I made the formal resolution to attain stream entry.
My next sit was at noon the next day at work. We have a meditation club of sorts at the corporation where I work – mostly Buddhist, but a few from other traditions. There are people in this group who have been serious meditators for decades, and the energy in that room we use is palpable. It was with them that I had my first-ever nimitta arise nearly a year beforehand. It is completely appropriate and right that stream entry would occur amid them, and that is what happened.
Does this answer?
So advice might be as follows:
♦ Make the only pressure you put on yourself be to show up at the cushion daily and enjoy. Your goal is not stream entry. Your goal is to keep Equanimity going.
♦ Know that however crappy your meditation “technique” may be, that is what it is supposed to be right now. It is doing you. Sit with it “as is.”
♦ Do not “note.” Simply feel into the surrounding space / vision / sounds / tactile / temperature aura with the gentlest curiosity.
♦ If something especially curious arises, don’t stop yourself from diving into the fascination of it, even if it feels like a daydream.
♦ Do not focus on vibrations. Allow grander swaths of movement to show themselves by relaxing and just being there when they decide to show up.
♦ Off cushion, ask yourself what you are avoiding looking at. It may be yourself. Or it may be some other big abstract background mode like “expectation” or “urgency.” Whatever it is, it is likely to be big/abstract and hard or impossible to localize. I suspect it is likely to involve some paradox that you aren’t directly seeing as such yet. It is likely to be a debilitating belief you have. On cushion move closer and closer to it. See it as empty, as part of the energy field that is noncausally manifesting as a whole instant by instant.
♦ Feel how pleasant it is just to sit in equanimity. There is ease of uprightness and openness, without pain. Enjoy this ease of upright perfect openness. Be completely it.