Honeymoon Over: Second Path Begins
It has been more than a month since that shift [stream entry] happened, with its fall from High Equanimity to A&P, and the exhilaration, mood swings, and sudden access to hard and higher (formless) jhanas happened. For the past week, or maybe more, I’ve felt a return to Earth and a lessening of the buzzy, floaty, rippling-out warmth. I’m now paying more attention to workaday life.
What Remains Now
So what of the shift remains? And what am I still not seeing clearly?
Well, my discipline sucks and I subtend some blind spot with regard to changing basic bad habits and laziness. I need to sleep more, exercise regularly, return my attention to vitamins and minerals, and optimize my diet. I need to meditate more. I actually enjoy all these activities, so why do I procrastinate? I’m not seeing clearly how I get in my own way.
Or is it why? Often “why” doesn’t matter as much as it seems. Like children, we use “why” to prolong a harangue and continue some avoidance. It sounds like I’m talking about daily life and not “practice.” But daily life is practice, isn’t it? So contemplating those contact points with addictions, aversion, and ignorance is in order, I think.
So I sat tonight. I’ve been rather obsessed with working on D’s book the past few nights, so tonight I made a wrenching effort to meditate instead of work. Part of the avoidance of meditation lately, I think, is that my recent sits have been so weird for being fraught with indecision in the middle of the sits. In other words, I have intrusive thoughts, and they are precisely about what the heck I should be doing with the sit. I was certain that it was exploring the samatha jhanas since I tapped such intensely sudden access to higher and harder states.
But not long after I get a state, I become bored with it, or not exactly bored but . . . I don’t know, maybe just restless and indecisive. So before I know it, I’m practicing insight, but not really getting much out of that, either. I can quickly get to Equanimity (EQ), and whether I’m in 4th samatha jhana or Equanimity is a subtle affair. I could investigate that very boundary, but then I let up and shift. So this lack of stability is rather strange. High EQ stage was tricky but also very easy to sit through. This thing I’m in now is in my face but keeps shifting. Something weird about intention is roiling into view . . . almost.
I had all these plans to practice with the powers, but I haven’t done that, either, except for a couple of little throws. Suddenly, I am not all that interested again. However, I do keep slipping into metta or the Four Immeasurables and feel really quite intense love, a deep feeling out to everyone I know and beyond. So now it feels like this is the way. It is very healing and it precludes fear.
Another way this volatility takes place is that two-tracked mind I’ve had for weeks. I can feel this deep calm and almost disappearance of the breath and body, yet my discursive mind is rattling on about something on a separate level. This has been really strange and only since the Aug. 8 event. I actually have much more in the way of thinking now than before stream entry. Or is it that I’m just noticing it more?
Race through Lower Jhanas
It takes a good while for my mind to shut up and get down with it. But then, when it does, it seems to skip or race through the lower jhanas and settle into the lower formless ones. While I’m there, it is nice to have something to do (ie, notice the spaciousness or the consciousness), but stabilizing that is wrenching, not exactly peaceful, which is odd. I mean the state is peaceful, but whatever noticing envelops it is not.
The Nada “Sounds”
Lately, I don’t like opening my eyes, as I usually wanted to do before Aug. 8. I tend to take the breath as object but then shift to sound – that “nada” talked about in Florian’s thread. I can hear so many layers of sound in the quiet that it is astonishing. Tonight, I thought I could hear two faraway birds chirping in vibrating branches somewhere.
Practice Like Crap
So it feels like my practice is crap, despite all that I’ve just written about it that sounds like I know what the hell I’m doing. I do have to admit that this afterglow of jhana states I’m feeling this very minute is really like a drug high – very nice. So it takes a third of my sit to get there, but this glow is so, so wonderful. It seems that it should be a platform for something.
And on another level, this surface turmoil is all okay. Maybe that is a change hat has stayed, too: more underlying okayness. I used to worry obsessively about my son, for example, and now several days can go by without our contacting one another, and I’m not imagining he’s been in a wreck or whatnot. My anxiety and fear have dramatically lessened, and my blood pressure is down, much to my doctors’ surprise.
I’m not having fruitions that I can tell, but I think I’m cycling and just not paying attention to the cycles because so absorbed in work.
More discipline and deliberate use of correct time slots for correct activities would further development on all fronts, in sum. But I also recognize that, with regard to paths, I’m in an in-between place and that is right where it is most okay to be now.
Comments from Shargrol of the Dharma Overground
“Yup, this is second path. A lot of rewiring takes place, and a lot of dimensions open up, even for people who aren’t prone to jhana. You’re going to get the full jhanic tour, it seems. Tarin’s advice is really good. So is Kenneth’s “riding the jhanic arc” approach – both basically are approaches where you sit in meditation like you are on a tour bus and let the meditation take you where it wants. You may go up into jhana and back down several times in a sit, you might go on a weird ride where you can’t tell how to map it, you might find yourself teasing apart psychological stuff without even planning for it. It is smarter than you.
“Don’t judge what happens, just judge whether you are making time for practice every day, at least whatever your minimum quality sit is. Lots of subterraining stuff happens in second, and it’s beyond directing. It does its thing. Best wishes for your practice!”