Night before Stream Entry
Thursday night, the night before the event I’ll try to describe, stream entry, I logged my sit with just the following words to show the sequence of what I noticed:
- Fast vibrations (seeing, feeling)
- Intense multilayered hearing of “silence” as particles
- Flows in the carpet arise, flows in the walls, flows wherever I look (formations)
- Trying to locate sense of self watching, failing
- Several feelings of rapid, momentary dislocation
- Intimacy with the flowing arises
- Fear arises
- Remembering to investigate fear
- Fear alternates with strange rapture
- Thought arises that I want and expect stream entry but am afraid of cessation
- Mild nausea arises (physical)
- Expansive feeling of love arises, nausea vanishes
- Surprise, wonder blooms
- Resolve formally to reach stream entry as soon as possible [this was the first and only time I’ve resolved this.
- Bell and stop
Friday, August 8, 2014, at a Lunchtime Group Sit
The event happened unexpectedly, right after the moment that an intensely clear realization arose about the now slowed-down, almost rhythmic formations [nimittas] I was watching arise and pass away clearly, from beginning to gone. What I call formations are like 3D “blooms.” And their passing away is like a concave, inverted bloom that is blank at center – even black, to tell the truth. They are big and constantly fluxing and flowing. Normally they are moving so constantly that I cannot catch the instant of arising, nor the instant of “gone.” Moreover, they overlap one another, so this fact makes seeing specific beginnings and endings hard (impossible till this day).
The realization was pre-verbal, but the way I would put it now is that the “gone” I could suddenly watch is actually still a kind of arising, and the reason that it is so is that there is, or was, the frame of reference that was the “real” arising, the contrasted background.
As far as I can tell, this crystal clear realization ushered me into a kind of collapse of duality. As soon as I realized that “gone” of a formation wasn’t actually gone gone – absolute discontinuity of the entire universe in a snap! So I remember up to that moment, and then I remember back to what it was like when reality was coming back online. And that was really the most earth-shattering moment – the rebooting of the world: During those few moments, “I” was dislocated into everything around me, in every particle, with nothing on “my” side, no center, no sense of within-body or location-grounding. “I” was gone!
I knew something transformative was happening, or had happened. I remembered to try to see clearly. There was this hard-to-describe quality that was visual, I think (but I’m not absolutely sure I was physically seeing), and the closest I can come to describing it is to point to what happens in planetarium shows or movies when they are trying to convey warp speed through the stars, and the stars turn into whiteness blurred out into bright white lines. The difference in this case was that there was no contrasting darkness or outer space background, so I’m not even positive it was visual apprehension of white lines at all. If so, my sense was of white-on-white/clear. I guess sometimes experiences are so unusual that all we can do is grab onto metaphors for them. At any rate, there was a quality of zoom and radical dislocation, or diffusion, of center and ground – no “this” side.
There was a sense that the whole field was turning to find me not there in my chair where I had been meditating. This was far more radical than an out-of-body experience. As soon as “I” was found to be not there, I started being layered back into being Jenny, located, embodied. I distinctly remember the instant when form and name resolved.
I now understand “In the seeing, only the seen.”
Immediately, and to my confusion, the meditation bell rang. And the oddest thing then was that I was almost paralyzed. I couldn’t stop meditating, even when I finally rose, stunned, and we walked upstairs to the cafe and ate!
The “door” to fruition was emptiness. I think this because, right before cessation, I was fixed on the passing-away moments of formations and seeing that the “nothing you can see” is not the “nothing you cannot see.” And I realized that positive formations and their apparent absence were not a duality at all. So it was the nonduality aspect that presented several clear times in a row and then cessation.
The other reason that I think the door was emptiness/no-self is, well, look at what happened during reboot–my self was completely gone. Although – it seems in MCTB that all three doors involve some radical dislocation of self.
By the way, now that I have had this experience, I find the Three Doors chapter in MCTB just opening on questions, not answers, for me. I don’t recall anything like the descriptions Daniel gives of the three doors, except that there was a POW-POW-POW—cessation, the “POWs” being three distinct frame – like apprehensions of the endings of three successive formations.
Also, what the hell was that thing that happened afterward and why is it not on any map?
Thereafter, I felt different – and not subtly different, but very different. Specifically, I feel noticeably less concentrated/localized within the boundaries of my body and immediate reach. I flow out further into the far off. Saturday I experienced cycling sensations of being diffused into all that surrounds me, feeling intense gratitude and weepy love for everyone (and telling them), and feeling a little bit scared/queasy at the sheer intensity of whatever has happened. At the restaurant I ate in Saturday, I could distinctly hear all the voices and conversations at once, individually, hearing each so acutely that “I” was there in the sound, not where I usually am, in me. It is hard to describe, but something is very, very different now.
I had a migraine headache all Saturday and most of Sunday. I sat only about 25 minutes Sunday night and again Monday night – but was itching, restless, aching, and unable to see even vibrations that I always do, both times. So I started to feel doubt. I guess I assumed one stayed in EQ for a bit after SE. Whatever the event was, after 2 days of afterglow, it kicked me out of EQ. However, the diffused sense of “me” remains. If this was not SE, it was a stunningly convincing imitation–especially given that my “progress” through the stages to that point was “by the book” and I have zero doubt that I was in the insight stage High Equanimity.
[Stream entry happened within a couple of days of my first talking with Daniel Ingram about structurally revising and substantively editing MCTB2. I learned a few months later that the layering back into being I experienced after stream entry cessation had been experienced by him many times, including stream entry; in fact, I found a new section he had written for the new edition. What he didn’t say there but that I dragged out of him was that the layering sequence was that of the 12 links of Dependent Origination, just as I suspected. This confirmed for me that I had indeed attained to stream entry.]