Site icon Sam Bartko, PhD

Attaining to Level 1 selfless perception


Attainment of non-self insight in the SigmaTropic System

Before the initial clear insight into non-self, the meditator has a common perspective on self and agency and their mind is configured in a certain way energetically. The process of attainment in the SigmaTropic Systematic practice is straightforward. We build foundational skills in subduing the five hindrances and we cultivate the seven factors of awakening. Then, we do jhana and observe dependent origination. The SigmaTropic cycle of manifestation is a cyclical process that occurs whenever a human being decides to work toward a goal or destination. The SigmaTropic cycle describes this person’s perceptual experience in broad terms according to 4 different phases of the cycle. The meditator simply carries out the meditation and observes their self-identity as they do the process.

Getting the level 1-non self insight is a clear turning point and the person thereafter has different meditative abilities that are a result of insight into the nature of mind. Therefore, the practice strategy and paradigms a person used before attaining the level 1 insight may not be as effective afte the insight.

To get the level 1 insight, we develop the faculties as far as we can go by getting skilled at subduing the hindrances. Then the introductory jhana practices and the vibrational awareness practice is done, and the meditator continues to develop calm and alertness together. Getting the level 1 non self insight is a matter of exhaustion- we have thoroughly investigated the nature of being a supposedly permanent agent trying to center their attention and control their mind. They find that their mind is a reflection of everything that happened to them and everything they did that past day or week. It’s not a hard thing to understand. So there typically is a tension between this unconscious baseline assumption of being a permanent self, and the reality of interconnectedness and non-self. This fundamental tension is what underlies all sorts of unpleasant energetic things that play out in meditation practice. We learn to push the right buttons and ask the right questions. Everyone is different and this method is only a framework for how to approach practice. But the key skills are:

At this point the key emotional change that must happen is surrendering self-control illusions. This key turning point is not a straightforward objective and requires deep introspection and honesty. But in general, the dynamic we want to let go of is a permanent agent being in control or responsible for everything that happens. We learn a more sophisticated view that matches our direct experience and empowers us with the tools meditation gives us:

Detailed breakdown of Insight Attainments in the SigmaTropic Systematic Practice with practice links


Many people from all backgrounds attain this insight in the midst of daily life, even without practice. For some people it can take a long time and a lot of suffering to truly turn away from the world as a refuge. Mosty people go through a process of systematically getting things and becoming disillusioned with them. The last thing most people arrive at is spiritual practice. For a person who wants to attain the insights outlined on the site, disillusionment can be accelerated by reflecting on the impermanence and instability in worldly things. If we really think about how fragile and precious our lives are, we may have more motivation to practice. See our opportunity If we take time to reflect on the objective suffering in our lives and honestly ask ourselves whether we think the world has the answers to our inner fulfillment, then most people will attain this insight very early in their practice.


This insight milestone is an experience in meditation that gives the meditator great faith in the power of meditation and in the untapped potential of their mind and the mental training possible. For me, I had a pretty spectacular series of jhana experiences early on in my meditation journey- and those experiences gave me a lot of faith that the meditation was worth pursuing and making a daily practice. It was the prospect of a mental upgrade- normal human pride- that motivated me early on in the journey. They experience a totally new perceptual mode- and with that they see how illusory their perceptions are.


This insight is a key turning point whereby the meditator learns to systematically dismantle all the self-fabrications that keep them in bondage. They deconstruct reality at such a fine and complete level that their illusion of being an autonomous agent with free will is shattered in spectacular fashion. It may not be extremely obvious for most people, but most people will have a phase of meditation being much easier and pleasurable, followed by a peak experience and a subsequent drop in concentration. This can be extremely challenging for some folks. They are trying to see the constituent ingredients of suffering and they are confronted with the nature of the craving, suffering mind.


This insight is unfortunately won by repeated and continued trying to subvert reality and control their meditation and mind, to a point of exhaustion and indifference. Meditators struggle in this phase to bring their mind to ease and satisfaction in the present- they may feel that they have lost some concentration level they attained in the past. Often meditators have persistent energetic blockages and anxiety, and some meditators deal with shame and repressed guilt and other very unpleasant mind-states. These strongly negative experiences should be approached with the utmost care and consciousness. It is always recommended to supplement the meditative practice suggested here with therapy and regular psychiatric care if necessary. The insight into transience can be very disruptive to meditator who have not developed a level of calm-abiding in their practice. The more they can soften the self/other duality that imposes suffering on their experience, the better.

For a person before level 1 non-self, they have yet to experience cessation, so they haven’t broken the illusion of the permeance of the self-concept quite yet. But the insights they have gained into transience and process and interdependence will all culminate in a moment of “convergence” where all those insights become concrete and tangible in experience simply stopping. The cessation moment is not something that can be forced, but meditators typically get stuck in this stage because they are relatively equanimous but they are looking for something to happen- they are expecting some result.

Current commentary dissuades meditators from imagining cessation experiences, but the SigmaTropic system encourages this and condones using whatever calm and peaceful mind states are available to a person, to deconstruct calm peaceful states and watch the process of suffering and stabilization done in the practice of presence.

They are disillusioned with themselves as a meditator and lose any faith that they can be saved by meditation or spirituality.  They simply give up and forget about getting awakened. This is a heart-knowledge that can’t be forced but it can be encouraged.




The SigmaTropic Cycle of Manifestation

    1. We visualize a particular event happening.
    2. We visualize a particular experience we want to have.
    3. We remember a meditative experience we had before, and we visualize it.
    4. We maintain a strong conscious intention to actualize that identity or experience.
    1. We carry out a meditative exercise.
    2. We identify any stress in the moment, and the constituent parts that make up stress.
    3. We evaluate whether we are manifesting the intended result or not.
    1. We stabilize the mind and observe the process of cessation of stress.
    2. We rest the mind in this state and remain watchful for any hindrances.
    1. We bring the mind to calm abiding and fulfillment in the now.
    2. We develop mental and physical pliancy.
    3. We expand this state of mind to all activities during all hours of the day.


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