Luminosity and Attainment of Second Third Path

I woke up one morning recently to find that this major shift had happened literally over night. I have a strong sense that the triggering insight was something Daniel pointed out to me in simply answering my question about the current title of MCTB2 chapter 3 the day beforehand. That exchange is discussed in my previous entry:

Effects on Vision and Remainder with Body

For the shift description that follows, I experienced no prior cessation or “fruition” to my knowledge or memory. I’m trying to be accurate, even when my experiences (and nonexperiences) don’t fit the maps and models.

All this past week since the morning of Thursday, January 29, 2015—I’ve enjoyed a significant perceptual shift, and I do mean “enjoy.” It consists of this: Much more of each sense object emanates whatever apprehension there is of it, even when it comes to more conceptual and abstract thoughts about it. I normally ascribe these perceptions and thoughts to myself, and I normally experience them as flowing from either the specific locations, or general “side,” of my various body fields.

I’ve been checking out this new way of experiencing for the past 6 days. I will continue to see how this shift unfolds and whether it settles in as a new baseline, which it certainly seems to be well on the way to doing, but who knows what can be undone and after how much time. Maybe some or all of you know, but I don’t.

The first of the five senses for which this new way was extremely obvious when I awoke on the morning of January 29 was vision. Most obviously with objects outdoors, at a distance—for example, tall trees and drifts of cloud—my “mind” seems soldered into the visual objects themselves where they normally exist apart. The overall bliss of this way of experiencing any one of them arises from the apprehension of the entire sensual world this way, wherever I gaze—as clearer, broadly inclusive, and absolutely direct.

Before this shift occurred, I could not imagine how the breakdown of subjectivity would or could work in the visual world, where over here and over there are spatially defined, it seems. Would everything be somehow flat and without perspective and depth? Well, no. It is not that the inference of functional distance, inference from lines of perspective and size differentials, can’t function as such for all former practical purposes; it is just that a huge part of the “doing” involved with positing objects as other than myself has stopped.

Even all points along the entire line of perspective that implies distance have this quality of being equally over there with pleasing immediacy, as in here. It is funny, yes, that experiencing objects as over there would, perhaps paradoxically from the former perspective, be more direct, immediate, and clear than the “from over here” way; nonetheless, that’s how over there seems—more immediate than over here, regardless of point of consideration in the depth-of-space perspective. Why did no one explain this to me before now, or did I miss it somewhere?

With regard to my body, the over here still remaining, I feel, as I did for a month after stream entry, that I’m never altogether out of a meditative state, even while working and typing. I feel jhānic always, which  is extremely heady and pleasurable. This is just as things were in the honeymoon phase of first path.

Shift Effects Unique to Formal Meditation: Intention-free Movement

Now to address where I am in formal meditation, and I should point out that the shifts I’m about to describe seemed to have actually begun months ago, particularly the action-without-intention one. If anything, they are simply stronger now that this other walking-around shift has occurred. The jhānas, after Jan. 29, are now heavy-hitting, taking over and largely obscuring my discernment of any separate, changing insight stage again—exactly as happened in the honeymoon phase of what I’ve been calling first path. This, to me, is another sign that I may have a new path.

About 30 minutes into a formal sit, I’ll open my eyes and test perception. My body parts—feet, arms, hands, breasts—as I gaze down on them, are as the rug under them: objects without their I-me-mine qualities. Again, this effect, as a fairly continuous one, is confined to formal sits only, about 30 minutes in, and is not noticeable this way in daily life. My body will actually seem weirdly foreign.

Also, during these sits, and occurring only when the above-mentioned loss of body ownership occurs, is an instantaneousness and automaticity of action: Any movement—shift in gaze, tilting of my head, This mode of experience starts, it will go on as long as I stay in meditation. It is draining of my energy, though, so I rarely stay here more than 10 minutes.

To the extent that I’ve been able to analyze what this odd new way of experiencing action during sits involves, I’ve been able to discern only what it no longer involves. That is, ordinarily when I take action, if I closely observe the whole sequence, there is some kind of cognition after the action, not before, that writes prior intention all over what just happened, so I can take credit for it, as it were. It is actually a recursive and energy-consumptive way to experience action; however, this other, direct way that seems to do away with this process is exceedingly strange to experience and seems to drain energy simply because of my lack of integration.

What I describe earlier about fusing with objects outdoors or at a distance is much more ordinary in feel, almost like it could be missed somehow and has been in the past. This nonintention, by contrast, is much creepier.

Fruition? Finally? Long after the Shift?

Still no cessation/fruition to this point in time, unless they happen during sleep, which brings us to today, 6 days after the luminosity shift was first noticed upon my rising in the morning.

All morning today, Wednesday, February 4, 2015—I’ve been alarmingly blissed out, so much so that I have felt like it was hard to contain, explosive joy manifesting as very “A&P” hypomanic expressiveness, so much so that I’m gushing up to my colleagues and being all manner of utterly charming to make them laugh and smile. As they titter away, they shake their heads and think I’ve gone barking mad.

I sent the following message to DreamWalker this morning:

I feel so fantastic this morning, now feeling almost A&P again, but I suspect I’m still in EQ. I’m going to try increasing number of times I sit every day, so lunchtime for instance. I had to walk a ways from my car to my office this morning. Everything is so clear, direct, and alive with glory. I’m filled with so much joy while just staring at trees, grass, everything. And in the area of my body, I feel like I’m still in a kind of very heady meditation—that same strong sense of background jhāna even as I type and work. All really, really nice and, yes, afterglow-y. So flooded with gratitude, too. Thank you for your precise advice, readings of my situ, and support. —J

During lunch, all the layers of noises in the vast workplace cafe atrium, and the aroma of food and people’s perfumes—all had the same new quality as my vision. All were experienced exceedingly clearly, directly,
and much more over there. My ecstasy while just sitting and staring and listening were almost just too much. I was transfixed, dumbstruck.

After eating, I went to the basement under the cafe and sat in the very same chair where I got stream entry on Aug. 8, 2014. No one was meeting in the conference room, so I sat in meditation with a timer set for 30 minutes.
I fell immediately into jhāna and rose up to 4th quickly. I longed to stay there, with eyes closed. But my eyes were open for stream entry, which really paid off. I determined to keep my eyes open and make this about the sensual world, all of it, and not samatha jhana or meditation per se. I was gazing out these huge conference room windows that open onto a thick patch of trees. Birds with pink feather colors hinting of coming springtime were flitting from branch to branch. I was experiencing the trees and all objects out there as I have for the past 6 days—over there yet with clarion immediacy. After a while I focused on this one bird that was perched on this one pale branch. After a few moments, there was a change, a simultaneous darkening and brightening of my vision, as if someone turned up the “contrast” on a photograph: The whole scene outdoors and indoors became paroramic and curled at the edges in toward me, kind of zooming out and around toward me in all directions from that bird, with every single twig in every tree popping out of the visual field with staggeringly sharp acuity.

This zoom, vastness, and clarity were so intense that, oddly enough, nausea arose arose from within me and then terror. I mean, terror, like the panic attacks or migraine auras I used to get! I almost backed off and quit the sit. But I reflected momentarily that I avoided looking at my suffering first path, so I determined to get right down with this suffering if at all humanly possible.

I was only partly successful, because real terror, while it is such, is hard to get on top of, let alone directly one with. I just waited it out, counting on impermanence, which did its thing, as usual. Then, a bit calmer, as I continued to focus on that bird over there, a kind of shuddering fall forward happened. Apparently there was an instant of discontinuity, for the next moment I found my body and my sight shifted physically, with recollection of having shifted just gone. This seemed like a “fruition,” although not as spectacular as my first and only other {besides numerous little “blip” cessations in first Review stage]. This one was also creepy feeling, and I immediately felt sick and really scared afterward. The joy came back a good while later, a while after I had walked back to my own building and office.

Maps and Models Are Failing Me, Maybe Others

Comments, diagnoses, questions, grilling, hazing welcome. My path has so far been atypical in presentation. I don’t even know where I am and never have. All the path models, including Daniel’s, seem shit to me currently—don’t match what I experience. Supposedly Aug. 8 was first path; however, what I had after that seemed much more than is typical, as described in MCTB1/2, for first path. I could describe quite precisely a long list of permanent effects of that path right after it, and they’ve held up for 6 months. And if this is now second, it sure seems more, in some ways, like third. Maybe not? I guess it doesn’t matter for my own awakening, since one thing is for sure: I’m awakening.

Practice continues, in other words, and of course.

However, from a mapping, theory, and MCTB2 authorship point of view—if the path models are shit when one needs them, then what good are they? If they really don’t matter because after fourth it will not have mattered, then I say “cop-out.” I mean what good are the path models at all if one can’t use them when the path is actually unfolding? I can see how they would actually do significant harm to people who believe them and then discount or doubt the practice because their own valid experiences of awakening don’t fit Daniel’s expert models. They may even cause people to quit practicing.

MCTB2 now corrects MCTB1’s statement that one must have Review fruitions to have first path. I had zero review fruitions between last path and now, and I would have been a wreck if I had believed MCTB1, which I would have done if Daniel hadn’t happened to mention to me that Kenneth didn’t have fruitions after first path. How much harm has been done to practitioners who discounted or doubted their paths because of misinformation doled out in MCTB1? Daniel can be So Damned Sure about “how it has to happen,” yet, no, it doesn’t always happen the way he says, apparently.

Perhaps if he eventually reads this post he will smile down from aloft and pat my head over the fact that I’m learning to believe in myself, not chiefly him anymore, but what of our more trusting readers? What of them?

[Postscript—When it happened, I thought this path was second path. Later, it became evident that it was MCTB third path, especially after Daniel made luminosity and agencylessness criteria for third. I no longer think of things in terms of four-path models, nor do I like the bhumi models, to the extent I understand them. I’m aiming for a modern western map that departs from the Revised Four Path model at about second path, in plain English.. Daniel mentioned in a personal conversation that it is academic whether the perceptual change comes before or after the cessation-fruition of path, affirming that the delayed fruition was not unheard of.]

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