Equanimity and Boredom

This journal is getting boring. In fact, practice is kind of boring, which means I’m somewhere in Equanimity. Jhanas are not wowing me, I can’t get enough rapture going for Pureland. Afterglow is subtle. So the theme of disenchantment continues. I’m restless to be done with MCTB2, but the work is endless, and I’m mired in it.

Boundless Consciousness (j6) was again center of gravity. It is a very powerful state. I can “let go” from pushing out into it, but then everything starts moving, swaying, rocking. So this is probably vipassana Equanimity (vj4).

I called up A&P/j2 pretty readily, oddly enough, and j3. At the beginning of the sit, everything felt profound, but as it went on, I started feeling bored, slightly nauseated, and done, like I couldn’t get any magic going. Nothingness (j7) was kind of busy, vibratory-roiling. I didn’t stay there long before I slipped to j8. Eighth now seems to have a kind of amnesia to it. I’m not sure what I mean, but when I come out of it, I’m not sure I was in it, but I think I was and that is the chief sign that I was: not knowing. What a whacked out state, if you can even call it that.

At the P8JP, again I’m getting into some kind of bizarre state. No idea what it is. It is a state of No Effort, No Need to Fabricate. I may need to post a question about this. Resolving for nirodha samapatti still, but I think I’m too vipassana-side to get it currently. No more clear fruitions—blip things, but I’m not “counting” those.

Pawel asked the following after I wrote the above passages: “Why would EQ ever be ‘boring’? If anything boredom is 8th and 9th ñanas quality, not 11th. In EQ there should be no boredom at all because need for excitement is gone, everything should be okay as it is where it is.”

My answer is as follows:

Ask Daniel. His gigantic table mapping the ñanas says for “Typical Mental Manifestations” of High Equanimity the following: “Boredom, forgetfulness, balance, Deep Wisdom seems very natural and ordinary.” That is the only stage that lists “boredom.” Desire for Deliverance has “disenchantment with the World,” but that’s different from boredom with practice. It could be Disgust, for that one says, “renunciation.” “Boredom” is a better fit, though, for what is (not) happening in practice.

Well, first that other source you cite—it isn’t as detailed (fine-grained) as Daniel’s map, not by a long shot, nor does it match what I usually notice. For example, it lumps all of Equanimity together as one stage; Daniel’s map shows substages and even sub-substages. Last night I was clearly in the mini-dark-night part of Equanimity, which included some fear and raptures. And  before the boredom entry I was right before that territory mapwise.

So I think I’m in Equanimity. Maybe I did touch into High Equanimity if Daniel’s mapping of boredom is correct. Notice in the source that you linked that Equanimity is characterized by “indifference.” That is the neutrality-boredom I mean. It wasn’t a restlessness, aversion, or sadness as the Disgust stage has it—although I do get mild nausea with Disgust, and I did have that during the sit in question.

Daniel says to look at what came before and what comes after to help diagnose a stage, so I believe I was somewhere in Equanimity, because currently I am.

What puzzles me is why I’m hanging out in Equanimity if that fruition really finished off that recent cycle. Am I in Review or not?

Visitation from the Medicine Buddha

Two unusual and even spooky sits past couple of days, and one tonight that was shit. (I used to know better than to judge any sit this way, but I’m too mad to care ‘bout that right now.) I can dispense with the latter one first. I was simply trying too hard tonight and ended up so damned mad and frustrated, although that is really pretty silly of me and not at all helpful. Oh, well.

Fluxing, Shimmering Effects Adorn Equinanimity

Two days ago my session went quickly to Jhana 3, 4, 5, and 6. I was moving up and down between 4 and 5, mainly. It seems that I’m in High Equanimity stage. I feel very close to some shift, and I’m having those arisings of excitement and then fear – edge-of-precipice stuff. This sit was very intense for the fluxing of space. I should mention, because DW asked, that I am paying attention (though in turn) to hearing, touch, and smell, too. I’ve been lighting these nontoxic scented candles from Big Dipper (my friend runs a buying co-op for many natural, nontoxic, eco-friendy, organic, fair trade products, so I get a great deal on these otherwise expensive beeswax candles, though I digress).

I light the candles, sit till EQ is strong, and then I open my eyes. In EQ I do always see things flux, warp, roil, and shift – and I mean literally “see” this. This night, however, it became a bit too much and reminded me of last year when this sort of thing wouldn’t quit for a minute, on cushion or off, and I ended up in the ER for 20 hours. The center of my vision became so bubbled out and so flowy that it was indistinct, blurry, which made me feel a bit panicky. If I closed my eyes, everything was manageable again, so I just closed my eyes whenever it became too intense. However, I wanted to see what was happening to the extent I could. I noticed that, in addition to the big flux that every “frame” seemed to be rapidly replaced by an imperfect copy. Normally this would just appear as shimmering, but I guess my mind was sped up and concentrated enough to actually see the replacement of each frame by its successor. This makes for an effect of semi-transparency and shimmering. I widened my view and noticed that the whole room was strobing, but it wasn’t the harsh, annoying, migraine-inducing strobing of a haunted house; it was like gentle fold-downs of sheets of rain. All these effects involved the background, foreground, whole room.

Lastly, there is this weird half spin and spin back that happens. This actually happens frequently in EQ for me. Sometimes the spin shimmies up and down the wall. Very weird. These can be disorienting after a bit, so I close my eyes. The lack of sync-up has never been so loudly in my face.

Medicine Buddha Has Cold Hands 

Before yesterday’s sit, I noticed that I had something that felt like a mini-A&P stage going on. Everything felt luxurious, ecstatic, sexualized, uber-clear, hyperenergetic, and powers-y. I’ve not felt this way in months. I hunted up all my sweet-smelling sanctuary candles and lighted them, and I pulled out my old notebook of Tibetan materials, which I’ve not done in years. I have these artistic renderings in the pockets of the notebook. I started looking through them and thinking about how in MCTB the no-self door involves collapsing into eyes, or an intelligence. I got this idea that if the eyes wouldn’t come to me, then I would go to them. And I have a connection with the Medicine Buddha, though he’s a little weird looking with that cobalt blue skin and those hypnotic eyes.

You see, I had this breathtaking dream of the MB several years ago. I was simply walking through this field, on a dirt path, toward a white gazebo in the middle of the field. In the gazebo sat the MB, only he was floating a few feet above the gazebo floor and staring straight at me. Suddenly he started communicating with me without speaking, beckoning me to keep coming toward him. I did, but was never any closer. I kept walking, but he kept retreating at the same pace, so it seemed that I was walking in place. Then it started raining blossoms. They looked like dogwood blossoms. They blanketed all like snow. After this dream, I started attending MB pujas, for lord knows I have enough problems for the Blue One to work on. Actually, those pujas are quite poetic and beautiful. They also are meditation. So yesterday I set up the candles and the image of the MB. It was too small, so I ended up using an image on my lappy, and, interestingly, the thing never went into screen saver for the the entire hour and a half.  I quickly rose to Jhana 4 and then 5. I gazed on the MB, especially his eyes. Fairly quickly, some odd things started happening. It looked like his mouth was opening and closing, for starters. He looked sort of popped out of the 2D and started warping into somewhat different poses and positions. His face was fatter and then skinnier and then fatter again, and so on. The weirdest thing of all was that three times, over several minutes, I felt a chilly hand on my right shoulder! The final time it happened creeped me out and I looked behind me to see if there were any possible source of a draft or other explanation. None.

Today my new friend Kat, a technical writer from work, came and did a Healing Touch energy balancing session with me for two hours. I really know nothing about this stuff, but she has Level 3 certification and will soon do Level 4. She needs people to practice on without charge, so what the heck! Supposedly she “grounds” herself and grounds me so that we don’t get any of each other’s “stuff.” Well, I was expecting this to be calming, but it actually was buzzy and jacked me up a bit much. It was hard for me to hold still and really hard for me to go into spaciousness. My space felt a bit invaded, even though I usually like that sort of thing and I really have a great vibe usually with this woman. She was focusing on my hurt foot today, but at one point she went up to my right shoulder and placed her hands there a long, long while, breathing audibly. After the session, she asked if something had happened to that shoulder recently. I said no, because I was thinking “injury.” After she left, I remembered about those cold hands on that shoulder.

Fire spirit and Ice-Blue Medicine Buddha are trying to help me, it seems. Bring it.

Well, actually, I was wondering if I didn’t get off track in doing this weird Medicine Buddha idea. Intuition seems great, but I guess people can get all kinds of weird ideas and start acting on them when those actions are not the practice. I thought maybe I should have been working with my expectation and frustration instead.

Jhana as Anti-Vipassana Compulsion

I’m unaccountably edgy and frustrated, and was so much so last night that, out of sheer perverseness, I refused to meditate. I just went to sleep, only to wake up at 4 a.m., and write this jokey thing on here [Dharma Underground] instead of meditate. Looking back over the past week’s entries, I see that jhana and powers-y stuff has overtaken every intention I had to practice insight. Now I have to consider that I actually fell back down to A&P and am in Dark Night again. I had distinct Fear last night; it actually woke me and I heard myself say aloud, “Something’s not right!”

Around and around I go. I’m curious what jhana has to do with my falling out of high EQ. It seems to be running the show, has been since Aug. 8. I have to admit that it pisses me off, stupid as that is to feel about the glorious jhana states. I just prefer Equanimity to A&P. But maybe that is the problem, since there has to be a “problem.”

[Postscript 2.4 years later—Daniel explained, in the Part 2 of MCTB2 that we nearly finished, that after stream entry concentration and insight are no longer separable practices. When I wrote this entry, January 2015, I hadn’t really gotten far into the work on Part 2. Maybe if I had, I would have relaxed more about the fact that I was not doing vipassana in the old MCTB1 fashion after stream entry. No matter what I intended, the jhanas called to me, and dry vipassana never did, and Review cessation-fruitions were so unimpressive compared with my stream entry fruition, that I completely discounted those “blips” as “fruitions.”  So, while being called away by the jhanas, I was really disturbed for a while that I wasn’t sure I was meeting Daniel’s repeat-fruition standard for having attained stream entry, but only a jhana standard that he rejected as “unreliable.” I now assert that the fruitions standard is just as unreliable. My current Tibetan Buddhist teacher recently caused me to laugh out loud in this regard by asking me if I could teach him how to have a cessation-fruition and a stream entry! (That still makes me chuckle!)  And Daniel actually does contradict himself. In MCTB2(J), he made a big change from MCTB1, in that he subsumed the insight stages completely under the jhana framework, after Bill Hamilton’s model.  He wrote that this was how he really always has thought of the insight stages. I was overjoyed at that revision, because it just makes so much more sense to have one integrated jhana-insight system instead of a two-track system with samatha jhana getting short shrift. Samatha jhana via the Thai Forest masters was my main practice modality before stream entry, not just after. Insight into the Three Characteristics would just “intrude” on my jhana practice, without my intention, without any noting practice or predetermination to notice. Indo-Tibetan teachers are fond of saying that the jhanas cannot lead to insight. They too are dead wrong. Clearly, someone needs to straighten all this mapping chaos out and integrate it into one sensible, noncontradictory path. It looks like that person will have to be me.]

Oscillation in Itself and Intention as Mental Echo

Illusory echos and boundaries

The Meta-Pattern Across Sits Now

Remarkable sit in the wee hours. Remarkable oscillations. At the highest level of consideration, I’m oscillating between profound sits with profound hard jhanic states, boundless, and noticing—and then crappy sits that feel like I no longer even have access concentration. I wonder what this pattern is about. The main possibility it brings to mind is simply how not in control I am of this path.

I’m in new territory, this pattern of oscillation, and it came to the fore with that tree that I saw that way the other day—with the thoughts of the tree and the sight of the tree all with the tree, with nothing on this side while those flowed yet stayed. Before it happened I experienced about 5 minutes of oscillating over here and over there. It wasn’t subtle.

I’ve spent many weeks now actually “falling” into Boundless Space (j4.j5), even at work while sitting at my desk. I’ve been interested in its spatial reach and the sense that it is a thing, but what manner of thing? And where do “I” go when I’m feeling out into that seeming expanse and nothing is left in the center? There is an aural component to fifth jhana—multitudes of pitches, some tonight very high and loud. I open my eyes and everything is kind of warping, rocking, and so much of what I would identify with as “me” is out there, in the space felt into. 

There is not synchronization; in fact there is marked lack of synchronization. That is interesting.

Trailing-behind as Mental Echo

I tried turning my attention, by turning my eyes, to different things in the room. This motion produced a distinct sense that “I” was trailing behind my own movements. For several weeks this sort of experiment has produced only an unpleasant ratcheting effect. But now the motion is smooth yet still not in sync with what is happening somehow. I can clearly see this fact: There is turning of attention, which is motion, and then there is the constellation of my thought, being, and even intention trailing behind it.

So next in this sit I found that this Boundless Space flipped over into Boundless Consciousness that was hard, hard, hard—meaning utterly pervasive and present. I tried to see if I could flip back and forth between Boundless Space and Boundless Consciousness, and I could, sort of, and I noticed this gap in the turnaround, which in itself is interesting, vertiginous. But Boundless Consciousness is arising hard now, ever since I saw that intention trailing behind my actions. 

I wonder if this is what DreamWalker means by “thought as an echo.”

Consciousness, even though “boundless,” seems like a thing, but it is odd as such. I have to wonder how it is that I’m aware of and can observe this thing-y “consciousness.” It makes no sense to split this way, yet how else would what we call consciousness work? 

Well, I’m in mid-Equanimity stage, quite evidently, at least for tonight, so thoughts, reveries, arise easily, just like all the sensory flow-forms in the room. I went with them, the thoughts, setting observation of consciousness itself aside. 

The thoughts were visionary and realm-like. Deep in meditation, I saw silver leaves flapping back and forth, revealing structures, church steeples in a chilly predawn purple. At one point I saw my own face and eyes from when I was about 19, the long blonde ringlets, the dilated eyes, paleness.

The Forgetting–Toward Nonduality

Then, I can’t remember what I was dreaming of, but suddenly I was aware that all those thoughts had been happening without me, literally without that sense even of consciousness or awareness, but with just this new and subtle but positive sense of the absence of that. This is important somehow. I should try seeing these matters this way during the day, not just when sitting. This is what Equanimity is about, this forgetting and then retrospectively seeing what was left behind, the bother that didn’t need to happen, and doesn’t need to happen. And it is like the tree. It is like intention.

I resolved hard. I have sat with the intensity of my yearning to be enlightened.

May it be. May the path come on. May it end this separateness. May it be for the benefit of all.

Higher Equanimity with Irritating Raptures

Higher Equanimity but with strong undercurrent of raptures. For an entire hour these waves of rapture that were quite intense as sensations in the chest area some but mainly in the arms from bottom of biceps down through hands. What an odd combination. I rarely experience raptures or piti anymore. I normally skip over the lower jhana and plop into 4, 5, or 6. I find the intense raptures irritating, although I remember back when I found them desirable. Maybe I should look more closely at those notations.

EQ nana, 2nd jhana aspect. If that makes any sense (and even if it doesn’t)