Reobservation into Low Equanimity of a Dramatic Insight Cycle
Yesterday I tried to do metta for a mere 20 minutes. But I just sat, staring at the candle, emotionally numb and unable to wish even myself well. Vibratory body continued. Insight stage notation from new MCTB2 notation system: ñ10.j3.j4. This is the fourth jhanic aspect of the third jhanic aspect of Reobservation insight stage. Actually this specific notation may apply more to Thursday. On this day I was moving into Equanimity.
This has been a particularly dramatic insight cycle. I never get A&P Events anymore, but I did this time. And I almost never even notice Reobservation, but this one has kicked my ass. Intense bodily vibrations have been prominent, and a very heavy and seemingly irresistible renunciation trip—especially toward everything Dharma.
But I think Friday night I was already drifting into low Equanimity. Now it is early Sunday morning, and I just finished a sit for an hour and 20 minutes. My best guess is n11.j3.j1, per the new notation system, which will be featured in MCTB2. (I urge all practitioners learn this notation system. It may seem off-putting to begin with, but you really need to be able to see the fine differences between substages and between subjhanas for mastery, and this system aids in that discernment greatly. So when you get your hands on MCTB2, learn it and apply it and encourage others to do so. It aids communication and journaling, and it helps you in awareness of your current insight stage, which may help prevent bleed-through, although I’ve had some significant bleed-through this week, unfortunately, despite my precision in knowing where I am.)
My concentration felt poor tonight, and jhanas were soft except for Boundless Consciousness (j6) and some portion of my time in Nothingness (j7). My bodily vibrations have calmed down into something finer, subtle, and slower. My mind is babbling while I sit, but I still sat more than an hour. I had bodily irritation, such as annoying itches, restlessness, and fleeting aches. This is a mimic of Three Characteristics stage, which is typical for me when I’m in low Equanimity. Eighth was hard to hold.
The “custom” jhana is weird. This is such an easy state for me to get, but tonight, for some reason, I didn’t feel I would get it. But I did. There is equanimity, then a bliss wave from the navel up to the heart and then everywhere, and the gratitude-y emotion. This time, however, the bliss-gratitude wave reached my heart, flipped over like a dead sea lion, and I started sobbing—completely unexpected, completely out of nowhere and nothing. It was the crying of grief, and the feeling that I cannot go back and undo consequences. So bright gratitude brought on deep black grief, without warning.
After I stopped being such a ninny, I sat long enough to get the purer gratitude wave generator going, but none of my samatha was impressive today. The insight stages are dominant.
There was a strong j3 element throughout all else in the sit—meaning my back was cold and I was creeped out a bit. The cold back is feeling of abandonment, as when a parent abandons a child, or a friend abandons or betrays one. I almost alway get the creepy frozen back (“cold shoulder”) in j3. Practice highlights were that Nothingness was very rich and long, NPNYNP was definite but not lengthy.
Reobservation does seem to be calming down and heading out, thank goodness. This was a baddy. I bled-through on someone I care for; it was not pretty. There are legitimate issues I need to straighten out with this person, but I absolutely wanted to torch him and everything conceptually related. I went into a heavy-duty renunciation trip.
I didn’t sleep much, but then stayed in my pajamas and in bed most of the day, dozing lightly, dreaming, and being like one post-illness or hung over—washed out and blah. My back and neck hurt all afternoon and evening, which is associated more with Reobservation than with Equanimity, so I’m not sure where I am.
Emotionally, I feel flat and professional; but underneath I feel ashamed for having lost control during Reobservation. Daniel gave some interesting advice that Kenneth gave him once, which is to renounce everything privately, not publicly, in heart and mind, and then to stop practicing for a few days. He got second path without warning that way.
Anyway, I’m crawling under a rock in a way, but sitting up straight, sober, professional, and flat-neutral in another way. This doesn’t feel like Equanimity so much as just Spent. Very sleepy before sit, but my concentration was better than last night’s, but then last night’s was shit.
Postscript 2.5 years later—I remember this particularly dramatic insight stage cycle well. The bleed-through I mention was onto Daniel. At one point I drew the Ten of Swords, pictured left, for outcome of the MCTB2 work we were doing together. When Daniel saw the card, he wrote only Alea iacta est, “the die is cast,” and indeed it was. Luckily, I don’t recall having another insight cycle this intense ever again. I was to have a Mahamudra awakening 3 months after this point, and, with the exception of occasional mild A&P-like episodes, the insight stage cycling ceased with that awakening, which is also when the Subject dropped out. Another 8 or so months later, even the mild A&P-like periods had faded out completely. It turned out that more than the opening of rigpa happened on that retreat: rigpa was fairly stable, stable enough for me to orient to the kunzhi naturally. It is interesting that, although Daniel’s descriptions to me and others about his own level of awakening sound just like this orientation to the kunzhi, he still experiences continual insight stage cycling, including kickass Reobservation stages, he claims. This continuation of the cycling indicates that something is incomplete in the realization of timeless awareness and unbounded wholeness, but what or why is not completely clear. I wish for him the ending of the cycling, for that is the cessation of much unnecessary suffering. Awakening is indeed incomplete without that cessation. I don’t know anyone who cycles who wants to continue to do so; quite the contrary. This is a hint, as well as a wish.