This is an attainment in the SigmaTropic system which is an important milestone in meditative development. It’s the first time the meditator sees clearly that there is no self in any thing we experience. We get this knowledge that the self-concept that we have is a merely a fabrication. In the SigmaTropic system the Level I non self insight is the culmination of all the other insights. After the level 1- non self insight, the meditator has different perceptual abilities and they enter a different manifold of practice. They find that there isn’t this pervasive sense of threat anymore.
The level 1 Non-Self insight usually comes about via a cessation experience. This experience is unlike any other experience the meditator has ever had- it is as if the meditator dies, the computer is turned off. It is a very clear moment of full wakefulness and nothing, no self, no nothing, but still it registers an imprint on the mind immediately after and they know it was profound. We were there, then we weren’t and now we’re back again. It is a direct knowing of the conditioned, fabricated nature of all mind and reality. Reality and mind are the same process. This is a simple way of seeing that reality is mind. This is what cessation shows you without words. Once you see that, even only briefly, you cannot ever believe in that permanent essence of the self ever again. It is required to know this in order to attain effortless meditation. We can see through the self on that level, and this releasing of a burden on our mind- we release some mental attachments with the attainment of level 1 non-self.
Attaining to cessation for the first time, like any other mental state, allows the mind to intend for that to happen again, and again. We can revisit that territory and build a neural map of it to come back in the future. The effect of the first cessation on the overall insight of the practitioner varies. Cessation is unmistakable, follows predictable and repeatable patterns, and involves characteristic shift in mental state and characteristic experiential markers. We constantly work with intentions during our meditation and intending has a key aspect of the imagined ideal- a template or a place marker. We use this principle during the training to guide our practice of accumulation concentration – we are repeatedly envisioning the desired result when we place an intention. Any intention we place has visualization in it.
We can actually visualize the body experiencing a jhana- and that in itself can bring a person into jhana. The reason for that is because of how intention, neural conditioning, and time interact to create our experience of reality. We learn that intentions that are consciously cultivated and reinforced form more of an impression and the mind stores that information. In a further intention the mind will get closer and closer to actualizing the visualized intention. The feedback they get from the senses guides the process of visualization and intention. This is a process we become intimately familiar with in the development of jhana.
The SigmaTropic Cycle of Manifestation is a new paradigm in the science of meditation. The key practice takes our normal inclination for imagining future and striving and uses the energy of that toward visualization of enlightened qualities and the experience of insight. For a pre-level 1 practitioner to attain the non-self insight, we visualize ourselves having experiences of insight. This is pretty natural for people to do, and we should not take these future oriented goals as anything wrong-they are actually key perceptual tools. They allow us to imagine things and events outside of our current direct experience. This process of intending and planning and guiding that we do through trial and error and failing, follows the same pattern regardless of tradition or practice.
This simple practice flow on the ground emphasizes suffering and the end of suffering. We keep a long-range goal in mind and apply mental exercises. We notice strain in the mind and observe the process of the cessation of the strain. We train the mind to recognize hindrances and we use the imaginative mind to our advantage. This is a dynamic and engaging practice flow that employs visualization and brings intention into the practice of insight. We deconstruct our own intentions and learn how intention is constructed in real time. With the awake, alert clarity we develop in the energy cultivation practices and vibrational awareness, we deconstruct suffering until it doesn’t arise in gross forms anymore, and the mind has the qualities of calm-abiding.
The SigmaTropic Cycle of Manifestation
Copyright 2022 Sam Bartko, PhD
- Creation Stage. An imagined identity or desired event is visualized and the mind is set on actualizing it. In this stage the meditator sets out for awakening and strives to attain it as soon as possible, for the benefit of all living beings. The meditator visualizes herself with the enlightened qualities she seeks, and strives to take action in accordance with those qualities.
- We visualize a future identity with the traits we desire.
- We visualize a particular experience we want to have.
- We visualize ourselves with the fruition of the current goal.
- We maintain a strong conscious intention to actualize that identity or experience.
- Observation Stage– We do the meditative technique, observe the mind, and respond to what arises. This is the stage of applying an exercise, maintaining mindfulness, and attempting to learn something from our experience.
- We carry out a meditative exercise.
- We identify any stress in the moment, and the constituent parts that make up stress.
- We evaluate whether we are manifesting the intended result or not.
- Stabilization Stage– Sometimes suffering arises and the mind loses the intention and is destabilized. This arises due to a mismatch between what is manifesting and the idealized result. This is a responsive stage where we bring the mind back to a state of calm into the present moment while watching the process. We are bringing the mind back to a state where we can work with it- to do that we need to stabilize and integrate the new experience.
- We do a technique to stabilize the mind and body, observing the mind in the process of cessation of stress.
- We rest the mind in this state and remain watchful for any hindrances.
- Unification Stage – This is a state of rest and nourishment for the mind. This brings the mind into unification, and this makes intentions and visualization more powerful. This is a stage where exploration and curiosity flourish.
- We bring the mind to calm abiding and fulfillment in the now.
- We develop mental and physical pliancy
- We expand this state of mind to all activities during all hours of the day
Practitioners looking to attain the level 1 insight will learn creation stage practices to imagine the closest state they can to perfect peacefulness without suffering, create a visualization of this abode, and expand this visualization to create a detailed self-image construct. They then continually refine and tune this self-image as things arise in experience. Because the intended goal (i.e., enlightenment) is a mental state which can be imagined (accuracy not required), it can therefore be intended to manifest in conscious experience as an experience. Before the attainment of level 1, an appropriate intention would be for the end of suffering, new perceptual abilities and enhanced meditation capabilities. Alternatively, the practitioner will envision themselves as their chosen deity or God figure, or some goal related to being more like their deity. For example, Christians can use Jesus as their archetypal role model, and use visualization of Jesus during their intentional cultivation. As we get a feel for visualization in meditation, we learn to construct a detailed self-construct with the aid of visualization and use this self-image as a tool for the development of insight. This is called the development of divine pride. Any suffering that arises therefore constitutes a detour from the vision and they are in the stabilization stage – end the stress. They only worry about suffering if they are suffering, otherwise, they are in the visualization and unification stages, building a positive self-construct. They are building an enlightened self-construct and in that building process they perceive directly how intention manifests reality. They focus on development of the seven factors of awakening and jhana, and once they attain category III concentration and jhanas, then they can do a series of exercises to investigate dependent origination.
The site will have detailed descriptions of a systematic series of exercises and talks and writings using this basic framework of manifestation. This practice flow takes the baseline assumption for the development of insight with the insight itself in mind, and therefore we direct the practitioner straight at the goal, and we continually cultivate new meditative territory and insights from where we currently stand.