Vast Spaciousness Overflow
I have written this text during the period the events in this text happened. Looking back on it now, I would certainly describe all that happened in a different, much less personal way. However, I think it is helpful to keep it like this as this was how I described it when that specific perspective was my reality.
Mmm, this is strange.. No manic high this time, just a feeling of tranquillity I never experienced before. But again, reality seems so different. Much more spacious, awareness seems to be diffuse all the time, Sounds seem to sound more hollow and more close by, and the visual field seems to be even brighter and lit up by the pure light of awareness.
The biggest difference since 2nd path is the resistance towards emotions. That diminished to a point strong emotions are almost laughable. Sure, sadness is still sadness. But because acceptance of it is so strong/resistance to it is so low, combined with a deep knowledge of emotions being not me it’s sometimes just too easy to ignore them completely. Funny thing is that when emotions are very strong, the outside world would never know it. Before awakening and even at 1st path when emotions are strong, the mind collapses and completely identifies with the mental pain caused by emotions. That doesn't seem to happen anymore. There is little in me that could identify with emotions as being me and suffering is therefore greatly, greatly reduced. This, however, has a flipside because spiritual bypassing (ignoring emotions) is so easy it almost feels like the natural thing to do. I luckily learned through my Burn-out that supressing emotions just causes them to pile up. And this sooner or later explodes into actions you would otherwise never have done.
Contact with other people is so enjoyable and easy. I would dare to say awakening (especially after the 2nd shift) makes it much, much more easy to get people to like you. It’s just natural, as if people feel that there is something about you. I’ve had quite a few times in which people I never met before started to tell their life story out of nowhere. I find it thoroughly enjoyable to see other people’s desires and aversion controlling almost everything they do without their knowledge. Not in a sadistic way, it’s just so interesting.
Bad days have to be totally awesome now! Well, no. Bad days are still bad days, but they are just much less bad. My natural state of being tends to happiness now and this is mostly because moment-to-moment acceptance is incredibly strong. Flat tyre? No influence on mood. Traffic fine? No problem.. Also, the one thing that keeps you from being happy is very often the stream of thoughts projecting “you” into the past or future. In this stage, it’s like the stream of thoughts are only whispering voices in the background. Sure, If I want to I can easily know it’s content. But I’m able to completely ignore it without knowing it’s content just as easy. It allows me to be in the present moment far more often, and in the present moments are no problems. Only the mood state you’re in right now.
So, my subjective indication of the lessening of craving is this: Let’s assume craving is 100 points before awakening: 1st path: -10 points, 2nd path: -40 points, 3th path: -40 points. Huh? But, according to the fetter model craving is totally uprooted when 3th path is attained?!! Yes, I will elaborate on that in the “The fetter model” topic. But man, is this weird in a very pleasant way! The control craving had over me becomes really clear now, as there is just this sense of peace and freedom in almost every moment. Why would I want this moment to be different? It’s just what it is and that is utterly fine. Does that mean I never eat ice cream or even drink a beer anymore? No it doesn’t! Pleasant experiences are still pleasant experiences. I would say even more pleasant, because you’re thoroughly enjoying the pleasantness in this moment, without the monkey mind intervening. One desire did however increase: The willingness to help other people.
2nd awakening resilience x 2= 3th awakening resilience is my incredibly well thought of analytical view on this.
Sense of self/agency
This is where it gets truly interesting, because the sense of self is the aspect that changed the most, for me at least. In 2nd path there still was quite a strong sense of “Pim” doing everything he did, especially when the mind was in a collapsed state. But now! It just isn’t. This is where it became really obvious to me that thought ALWAYS come after, well, anything! There is a deep sense of things just happening on their own. Hungry? Automatic bodily reaction leads to thoughts, leads to action, leads to resolving the “problem”. Is there a “me” involved who’s in control. Well, it doesn’t feel like it at this stage. Sometimes it does, but many times it doesn’t. Wow, that must be really scary!? The opposite actually. It feels freeing! Why should you ruminate about things you should do, when it will just happen when it happens. This doesn’t mean there is no sense of purpose anymore. Again: The opposite. I truly seem to act from deep passion now.
Meditation is extraordinary. There is just sitting and whatever happens, happens. I’m not practicing TMI anymore as it is far too control-oriented. I just sit and shift trough the stages of insight in approximately 10 minutes and finish with a fruition. However, I’m still in the review period so this will change. Concentration is unbelievably strong, after a couple of second the mind is still enough to enter the Jhanas. I don’t even have to meditate to enter the Jhanas, just calling them up during lying down or sitting is enough to enter them. Funny thing is that there also is no control over calling up the Jhanas, there just is a voice saying: “nothingness” and another state of consciousness arises. In this stage, meditation is just something I do every moment, all day long, without having any control over it.
The fetter model
I feel some friction here. Like I stated before, I do not believe I can totally align with the promises of the fetter model. These promises are the total uprooting of:
Aversion / ill-will
This means that I would NEVER have any desire for ANYTHING. This just doesn’t seem to be true. Desire is greatly, greatly less but it does pop up in very mild ways at moment you least expect it. For example, I’m seeing a girl for some time now. And while desire to see her is definitely much less, there still are moment in which the “pull” of desire to see her is very noticeable. Regarding aversion, I conclude the same. Even though resistance is almost 0, it’s not entirely 0. For example, yesterday I had a quite severe headache, which is still unpleasant albeit far less so. However, I noticed a very little “push” of aversion wanting it to be different in that moment.
So, what happened then?
Like after the previous shifts, a review period followed. Which I found interesting, but still intense. It felt like the unconscious mind was pulling all it’s last tricks to keep me in the old more with self-identified reality by projecting lots of anxious thoughts and unpleasant bodily sensations/emotions into consciousness. The fetters that were cut before came back with a force I never felt before. Besides that, I was experiencing waves of enormous emptiness. Quite uncanny. For example, when someone was looking at me, I had this weird automatic sense of: “What are they looking at?”. The world and things in it seemed so unreal at times that it was met with waves of resistance. But still, no matter what the mind came up with, there was always this deep knowing that it would pass and that it was not me. Part of the mind is total chaos, the other part is observing it with equanimity, which luckily allowed me to function totally normal in daily life.
And of course, it did pass. Life became blissful and simple at the moment. Simple in the sense that it just unfolds on it’s own, without resistance. Things happen and that’s ok.
Pure Land Jhanas
The review period also gave me a mind strong enough to learn the 5 Pure Land Jhanas, which feel like truly healing states of being. When I first entered the 1st PL Jhana I was almost overthrown by the feeling of gratitude for just being here on this planet in this moment. Truly amazing. I remember that I always find it a bit funny when my Yoga teacher would speak of the Chakra’s and their colours. But since I’ve entered the PL Jhanas I get what all those wise teachers have felt. By focusing on different chakra’s different states arise, each with a whole other perception of colour and being.
I felt a little done to be honest. What could be more amazing than the PL Jhanas? (Notice the subtle desire in that?). But then one of my Sangha buddies came up with Nirodha Samapatti: The cessation of perception and feeling. So I climbed the Jhana ladder all the way up to the 13th, and then silently said to myself: “May I enter Nirodha Samapatti”. A fruition happened. Pleasant, yes but not what I was aiming for. But luckily, another day, another try, and it just clicked. Reality very slowly dissolved, like I was sinking slowly into total emptiness. And then the world progressively rebooted. Boy, that afterglow! It feels so tranquil, but at the same time so strange. So empty and yet so fulfilling. I remain truly amazed of the capacities of the human mind and the enormous control you can have over it while at the same time knowing it’s an illusion.
Happiness and Flow
What followed was a period of pleasantness. Love was strong, very strong! I seriously doubt I could be in love with a woman anymore as there seems to be love for every living thing on this planet. In this period, I started to help fellow yogi’s. This was and still is probably the most fulfilling activity in life right now: Pointing at the moon. I also worked on psychological stuff in this period.. The Bio-Emotive framework by Douglas Tataryn just clicked with me and it gave me great insight into my conditioning and the underlying core emotions that triggered negative mental states. I cried a lot during sits, with the difference that the unpleasant feeling behind crying seemed to be almost gone. It actually feels quite pleasant now. But every pleasant period has it’s ending and only a few weeks later, a new cycle kicked in.