Before you ask - NSE = Near Suicide Experience. And no, I haven't been hanging off any cliffs thinking of jumping lately. The subject came up in conversation recently and for those who are interested these are some of the basic touchstones along that path. I believe the touchstones are basically the same for everyone who treads this path, but I could be wrong. The corresponding Buddhist path is the Hinayana, and it is written from that viewpoint, not the ultimate view.
The basic sequence is:
Pain => Vulnerability/Insecurity Point => Struggle => Retreat/Withdrawal => Suicide Point => Fatigue/Tiredness => Total Loss Point => Mad Point => Boredom Point => Courage/Anger Surge => Pattern Breakdown => Breakthrough
I'm not going to elaborate because if it's not pertinent to a person they aren't going to bother anyway, but if it is they'll be able to figure it out.
Pain = The journeyman feels pain, real or otherwise. It is a reaction to a situation that he believes is coming to him. This is not physical pain, although that may be present, but psychological pain.
Vulnerability/Insecurity Point = The pain, if explored, is an emotional reaction to an insecurity, a fear. Lester Levenson of the Sedona Method would call this wanting approval, wanting survival or wanting to control.
Struggle = Means what it says on the label.
Retreat/Withdrawal = The person consciously or unconsciously gets beaten into a mental corner. Strategies that worked in dealing with life fail. He or she shirks into the mental dungeon, unwilling to give up struggling for mental space, but the pain caused through the struggle is causing the flinching.
Suicide Point = Also known as the Self-Pity Point. If they are going to do it, this is when they will do it.
Fatigue/Tiredness = If they hang about Suicide Point for too long, tiredness or fatigue will overcome them. This is not the fatigue from the struggle. It is the complete collapse of the mind. Danger of suicide is over - they are too tired to hurl themselves off the cliff.
Total Loss Point = Here they give up. Not necessarily willingly. In fact, most will be beaten and hit and kicked in the stomach until they finally let go. It's the mental equivalent to torture camp.
Mad Point = For a very brief moment, everything stops making sense. Very important point. In fact, the key point, but I'm too tired to elaborate on it. We'll call it "A Glimpse of Emptiness". Next.
Boredom Point = When things stop making sense, there is a brief moment of peace. Then it gets boring, at least to the journeyman from a Hinayana viewpoint.
Courage/Anger Surge = So there is a sense of "nothing more to lose", which leads to a sudden outward burst of energy - spiritual, mental and physical.
Pattern Breakdown = Old mental patterns break down as this energy starts afresh and is reborn. Phoenix emerging from fire and all that.
Breakthrough = End of crisis. The ones who didn't pay attention get up, dust themselves off and walk away. The ones who did learn a very valuable lesson about how to initiate the self-destruct sequence before life forces them to, and thus attain liberation from suffering.