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My introduction

I go by the username Budo. I started meditating in 2009-2010 when I discovered Buddhism. Since then it has been a process of weeding out what works and what doesn't work. I found that I never really liked Zen or Mahayana because it was too ambiguous and fluffy for me. The book Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana is what made me experience Mind and Body insights for the first time in 2010. Over the years I delved into many different Buddhist teachings, but always returned to Theravada.

I followed the teachings of Henepola Gunaratana, Ayya Khemma, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, and Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. Last year I was able to enter First Jhana consistently, to the point that my visual field was white, with a strong white orb nimitta, very strong piti/sukha, and loss of hearing while in that state. I even had nights where I woke up in the middle of the night and saw electric spiderwebs with eyes in them, and see-through transparent beings, perhaps from touching 4th Jhana a few times. My dreams became more vivid and more lucid, I started having 100% dream recall.

While the Jhanas were fun to play with, I eventually got dispassion towards them. I went on a 15 day Ajahn Tong/Mahasi based vipassana retreat last summer which was a rollercoaster of emotions, extremely vivid dreams almost as if they were past live memories, a lot of painful sensations coming to surface, etc.  My desires also disappeared for that time, I had no desire to eat until half the day was already over, foods I liked I no longer wanted to eat.

After that retreat I don't know if I attained stream entry or a new path, but I took a break from Buddhism and meditation, went traveling, got into video games and other distractions, but now my interest in video games is slowly disappearing and my interest in meditation and Buddhism is returning.
I started meditating again, I don't know if I can get back to first jhana, or if I even have a desire to, I just want to attain a path. I don't feel like I have any suffering in me, only boredom or withdrawal from addictions like video games. I still have some questions regarding the Mahasi dry insight practice, maybe Bhikkhu Pesala can answer them in another thread I'll post.

Aside from that, my goal is to attain nibbana, or at least a path.

Thanks for reading and any thoughts or feedback is appreciated.

Take a look at Sayādaw U Paṇḍita's explanation of Vipassanā Jhānas.

The dry insight method is unlikely to produce samatha jhānas because that is not its aim.

Depending on where you live you could attend further 10-day retreats teaching the Mahāsi method.
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Dear Bhikkhu Pesala, thank you for responding to my post! Yes I read U Pandita's "In This Very Life" before I went on the 15 day Ajahn Tong/Mahasi retreat last summer.

From what I know, the difference between Ajahn Tong and Mahasi is that Ajahn Tong uses "touch points" in sitting meditation.

I have a question regarding dry insight and the Buddha. I know that the Jhanas were not enough to attain Nibbana as his teachers Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta did not attain Nibbana even though they had mastered 7th and 8th Jhanas.

However, when you read the Anupada Sutta "one after another" Sariputta enters the 9th jhana, nirodha samapatti

Quote:Sariputta entered & remained in the cessation of feeling & perception. Seeing with discernment, his fermentations were totally ended. He emerged mindfully from that attainment. On emerging mindfully from that attainment, he regarded the past qualities that had ceased & changed: 'So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play. Having been, they vanish.' He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers. He discerned that 'There is no further escape,' and pursuing it there really wasn't for him.

From my understanding, you are ferreting out the elements of the five aggregates by doing the jhanas until you enter complete cessation of perception, which is an aggregate, and thus achieve Nibbana.

The path through Samadhi Jhanas seems clear to me, just practice until you get to 9th jhana, but the path of dry insight seems a bit confusing to me. How does dry insight ferret out the aggregates? how does one get enlightened via momentary concentration (khanika samadhi), and can you ferret out the aggregates in momentary concentration? Is it just gradual process of no more desires/fetters arising through persistent practice? It just seems a little too random and luck based to me.

Lastly, how does one know they've entered the stream other than seeing if the fetters arise or not?

Sorry if I'm over complicating things a bit too much. Thank you for your time!

I'm currently in Germany (although I'm not German) and will be interested in going on another retreat in the next few months.
If the defilements could be ferreted out permanently by doing samatha meditation, then Āḷāra and Udaka could have attained to nibbāna.

The Bodhisatta abandoned that method as unproductive and discovered an entirely new method by contemplating the five aggregates, through which he understood dependent origination and conditional relations.

Whether one attains jhāna or not, to gain insight one has to gain direct experience of impermanence (anicca), usatisfactoriness (dukkha), and not-self (anatta). 

(Nyanaponika Thera in the Foreword to The Progress of Insight) 

Quote:The approach followed is that of “bare insight” (sukkha-vipassanā) where, by direct observation, one’s own bodily and mental processes are seen with increasing clarity as being impermanent, liable to suffering, and without a self or soul. The meditation practice begins with a few selected subjects of body-contemplation, which are retained up to the very end of the road. With the gradually increasing strength of mindfulness and concentration the range widens and the vision deepens until the insight knowledges unfold themselves in due order, as a natural outcome of the practice. This approach to the ultimate goal of Buddhist meditation is called bare insight because insight into the three characteristics of existence is made use of exclusively here, dispensing with the prior development of full concentrative absorption (jhāna). Nevertheless, and it hardly needs mention, here too a high degree of mental concentration is required for perseverance in the practice, for attaining to insight knowledge, and for reaping its fruits.

It is not surprising that you are still confused about the dry insight method after only one 15-day retreat. There are several well-known teachers who claim (wrongly) that insight is not possible without samatha jhāna.  The vipassanā jhānas are also deep states of concentration, but they do not use any nimitta, they focus on mind and matter in the present moment.

In his Manual of Respiration, the Ledi Sayādaw describes How to Proceed to Insight, when practising ānāpānasati. Here too, one can proceed to insight from any of the jhānas or from access concentration.

I suspect that there are Mahāsi retreats in Germany, but I don't know of any teachers. In the UK there is the Satipanya Centre and the Saraṇiya Dhamma Vipassanā Centre where one can do residential retreats.

Regarding entering the stream, one can assess one's own progress from reading The Progress of Insight, but be warned that reading this may slow down your progress as you are distracted by expectations based on intellectual knowledge. It is better to practise meditation for its own sake, and not to achieve any special states. 

The Mirror of the Dhamma in the Mahāparinibbana Sutta also gives a way to assess one's insight. No mention is made there about enjoying video games. Smile
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Thank you for your response Venerable Pesala, I will review these materials.

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