54. The Middle Paths
I was noticing all sorts of interesting effects from second path, like driving down the road and
nearly getting run off the road by a large truck that merged into my lane, and watching the emotional reaction take about three seconds and then just vanish: that was astonishing when it happened, as it was clearly something very different, with the sense that emotional reactions now ran luge-like down what felt like vastly improved neural pathways than they did before. Such transformed emotional reactions didn’t necessarily always happen that way, but when they did, it was clear the wiring was now quite different. What was so interesting about this was really seeing the dharma work, the maps work, the practices work, and my experience continue to change in positive ways that all made both practical and theoretical sense. This last statement should be contrasted with one that comes later relating to what happened when I got what I thought of at the time as third path (and still do). However, that was the last phase of my practice for which the traditional Theravada maps seemed to work nearly perfectly.
During this time, I was obsessed with fractals, as fractals were how I thought about everything practice-related and what I saw when I practiced. Subjhanas, subñanas, subsubjhanas, subsubñanas, things that looked like all sorts of combinations of various phases occurring within smaller patterns of larger cycles within cycles within cycles, such was my practice and way of viewing the world. I was very obsessive about this fractal aspect of phenomenology from about September 1996 until 1999 or so. It was a remarkable time.