Can Meditation Help Relieve Pain? Chronic Pain?

A meditation spot at Wat Mahathat temple in Nakhon Si Thammarat in southern Thailand.This is an email I sent to a reader requesting some information about whether my meditation books would be good to help him with some pain he was having. He didn’t mention whether the pain was chronic, but I addressed that in this note.

Meditation for pain relief is a long-term solution, but won’t provide relief from pain the short-term. As your mind becomes more knowledgeable about pain and what it actually is, you can reach a state where it doesn’t bother you as much. The pain doesn’t stop, it is just handled by the mind differently.

Is Meditation Good for Pain Relief?

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Hi (name removed), Thanks for writing! You asked a tough question. I imagine you’re writing because you have something that is causing pain fairly often.

Chronic pain relief is something meditation can provide to some degree, but read on to learn more about what I think about meditation and pain. Personally, I’ve experienced a profound change in the way I see pain after extensive meditation experience. I can say I’m probably not in the normal group.

When you meditate on pain it’s no different really than thinking about the pain you’re feeling, really feeling it and watching it in the mind. Closely, and relentlessly. It’s certainly no fun to watch pain in your mind, but as you do it, you’ll come to a level of detachment from the pain and it can become if not ‘fun’ then a challenge to see if you can keep watching it without feeling the pain, the fear of the pain, the anxiety of the pain.

What began to happen for me was that I started to see pain in a different way. It wasn’t so intolerable. It wasn’t so catastrophic. If you watch it closely for some minutes, tens of minutes, you’ll start to see the truth of it. It isn’t steady like you think it is. It wavers. It wavers for seconds or fractions of seconds, but pain is very rarely constant and without any brief respite at all.

I have felt pain like that – box jellyfish sting and a stingray sting. All other pain I’ve ever felt was of this other variety – with ups and downs. Strong points and weaker. When you’re able to see the weak points, it makes the strong pulses more tolerable.

Eventually, and again, I don’t know if this happens for all people with extended practice of meditation and in particular, meditating on pain… but I now separate the pain from my head.

Meaning, when I roll my ankle on the trail, something that hurts incredibly bad, if I stop for a second and remind myself that the pain is the foot’s pain and that in my head I don’t feel anything, then the pain remains in the foot. I shut it off, so to speak.

If you buy my book and do the meditation the way I outline, are you going to reach this point? I think eventually. Meditation can’t be considered a ‘quick-fix’ for pain.

If you meditate on pain, or even sit and study the pain as it occurs – and try to learn about it as it is happening, you’ll come to some greater understanding of how to deal with it.

Hope this helps somewhat! I’ve never addressed the topic in my books to any great degree. I will add it to my second book – Meditation for Beginners – Secrets for Success during the next revision.

Thanks for your note!

Cheers (name removed), keep trying to find some relief!

My Friend Sent this on the Simplicity of Life…

I got this very interesting message from my very intuitive friend, Maitland Kalton, on messenger this morning after I viewed a video he tagged me in months ago that I never got to watch! Good thing I got to watch it because he sent the following message full of gems that just came to him in a cave at a Theravada Buddhist temple good for walking or sitting meditation close to our home that I think is special to both of us.

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Hi Vern. Thanks for looking at that old video (What is the point of life?). Listening to it after some 4 to 5 months, I was reminded of this that I channeled at the rear cave area at Wat Tam Seua on Monday…

Everything that you are and ever will be is within the bounds of these walls as it is also within your own heart. The sheer simplicity and peace within is an expression of all that is in you and everywhere. Breathe it in slowly and deeply and as you exhale, let the bonds of the outer world leave you. Just be with the silence and your own breath. You are temporarily part of the movement and life in this place just as each and every plant and insect is the same…in transition from one moment to the next. Each step, each moment has no essential meaning or purpose other than to lead to the next one and so on. That is all there is to reflect upon. This is the assignment I am giving your subconscious mind – to reflect on the simplicity of life and reflect this in your work. Bring this peace and inner tranquility when you work in all ways, from your videos to your writing and other expressions of your heart and soul in the days and years to come. Never leave this place in your heart – be here forever as you seek the fullest expression of the form you have taken temporarily for the betterment of your own existence and nothing more. The rest follows naturally without effort or purpose – it just unfolds, orchestrated by me at my will as befits the needs of the moment and nothing more. Seek not purpose or fulfillment beyond this message. Seek only the revelation of what you may bring to this world as a gift before you depart it. Seek no attachment to a specific outcome and let that be my concern, not yours.

Now hold your breath one more time and release with it the attachments of your life till this point. Breathe in again now free from the past and be free always.

©2019 Maitland Kalton

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Is there a Phrase (Mantra) I should Repeat when Meditating?

Monks chanting mantra at Buddhist temple.

Should I repeat a Phrase while Meditating? (Mantra)

This is a good question. The main goal of meditation as you begin is to reach a place where the mind is not churning out so many thoughts. It will be impossible for you to concentrate on the full breath until your mind has calmed down a bit.

I have used a number of different techniques in order to begin to calm my body and mind so that it is ready for the practice of focusing entirely on the breath. One of those techniques that I mentioned before that I used to do in the past was placing a lighted incense stick in a holder on the floor and shut off all of the lights so that all I could see was this small orange burning ash.

I would just focus on that orange dot, and even watch some of the smoke curl up off the tip of the stick. As I did this I became more relaxed and my mind became focused on that activity instead of the thoughts flying around in my head.

Another way that some people calm the mind during meditation is that they choose a mantra to focus on before they begin the serious business of focusing on the breath.

Meditation and mindfulness master, Thich Nhat Hanh's book, Peace is Every Step. Excellent book for meditation and mindfulness practitioners.

The Vietnamese meditation master Thich Nhat Hanh has many very useful phrases that you can use during your meditation to calm you down. I have not found anything better than his suggestions on mantras to say during your meditation session, so you might give them a try.

It has been years since I did this, but I can try to remember what I used to say with each in-breath and with each out-breath.

As I was breathing in, I would say something in my mind like, “Breathing in is life. Breathing out I let go.”

And it’s really as simple as that.

For some reason repeating a mantra time after time with each in-breath and out-breath calms the mind considerably and allows you to move forward in your practice by helping you let go of the thoughts and cares of the day. Then, you can begin letting go of the mantra and refocusing only on the in and out breaths.

I think that the ideal way to begin your meditation session is to think about it as an overall gradual lessening of input and focus until you finally focus entirely on the very small spot inside your nostrils or on your upper lip where you feel the breath most strongly.

So, one way that you might do this is as you come into the room for your meditation session you have many things on your mind, and then gradually begin letting those things go to focus on the simple physical activities of getting ready for your meditation.

As you sit down on the floor, or wherever you choose (no matter), you can start to look at finding exactly the right position for your meditation. You can start to remove things on your body that might interfere with your meditation because they cause you to feel them.

Things like bracelets, necklaces, watches, maybe large earrings or maybe nose-rings. I don’t know what you might be wearing, but any of these things can cause the slightest feeling that may interrupt your meditation.

You should probably be wearing a very loose shirt or no shirt at all. You should probably be wearing very loose pants, no socks, and no shoes.

The air in the room should be comfortable and no fans or air conditioning vents should be blowing air directly on you. Noises like a dog barking or baby crying should probably stop before you begin. Make an effort to quiet down everything you can control like a loud television or music or anything like that.

So look at it as winding the mind down to a fine point which you’re going to need as you meditate solely on the breath. Each thing that you do should be designed to lessen the amount of thought that your brain is having to do and winding it down to a slower pace and less-frantic pace of thoughts.

As you sit down, you can take an inventory of what your body feels like and whether or not you are in the right sitting position. You can query yourself and ask if there is anything that is bothering you as you sit there.

The next step is to bring in something that will help you calm the mind even further, so I suggested an incense stick that is slowly burning down. Or you can use a mantra in your head that you repeat over and over.

Breathing in, I live. Breathing out, I let go.

As you repeat these phrases over and over in your mind as you take each breath, gradually after five or ten minutes you will notice that your mind is starting to slow down a bit. Now, this might not happen for the first 10-20-30 sessions or more, but at some point, you will notice some progress as the mind begins to slow down.

Embrace the slow repetitive nature of the mantra with each part of the breath.

As you noticed the mind slowing down, start to make a transition from the focus on the mantra to a focus on only the feeling of the breath on the inside of the nostrils, or on your upper lip.

I encourage you to try many different things in your pursuit of calming the mind before you can begin really focusing on the breath in its entirety.

Using mantras or other tools to calm the mind is a useful but temporary method of slowing the mind down before real meditation on the breath occurs.

If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them if you just go to the Contact Page here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Problem with Reaching Nirvana Through Meditation

Buddha statues - art photo from Thailand[Last updated: 8 March 2019]

Do you know anyone who is enlightened?

Buddha showed us that it wasn’t all that difficult – it’s just a simple process of sitting and watching the breath.

Why isn’t there anyone who is enlightened today?

At least I haven’t met anyone. Have you?

Sure you might have read about someone – but, can you trust what you read? For me, I’d have to meet the person. Could I then tell – enlightened or not? I’m not really sure. 😛

There must be 100,000 monks here in Thailand – and yet – who of them is enlightened? None I’ve met. Nobody is talking about any of them alive today that’s enlightened. India is claiming some – but, here in Thailand, a land of 65 Million plus people – 98% Buddhist… I can’t find any.

Why is that?

I believe that the problem lays in the double bind.

Having gone along the path to some degree I realized that the couple keys to progressing are:

1. Meditating not to get anywhere.

2. Letting everything go that comes up during meditation. Sure, look at it in the case of feelings, pain, fear, uncomfortable feeling, heat in the body, sweat running down your cheek – tickling… but after you look at it and gain wisdom about it… let it go.

Same goes for jhana and other experiences. Let them go. Don’t take them to mean you’re on the fast track to the same state as the Buddha – just let them go as if they are nothing.

Now, how does someone do this if they’re whole life is centered on the act of reaching Nirvana – or progressing as far as they can?

Nirvana is set up as this ultimate and unattainable goal that is so important…

How does one not get excited and attach to the various states that precede jhana… let alone once inside jhana?

The states are amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing states. They are so awesome in their depth and character… so unlike anything people have ever experienced before.

How can someone go through that and not make a big deal of it?

That’s the thing – most can’t. The more you’re a die-hard Buddhist and stuck on tradition and some magical formula for getting jhanas… the less chance you’ll have of ever getting further than your first experience because the goal suddenly seems realistic then – and you blow it all out of proportion, attach to the experience and never see it again.

I believe that enlightenment is not very likely for any monks or serious students of Buddh-ISM. The less you read about what should happen – the better.

The less you care about reaching the higher states of jhana… enlightenment – the better.

Otherwise when presented with some of the feelings of jhana or what precedes… you’re blown away by it and can’t get over it… every time you get close from then on – the anxiety arises and you’re attached to getting the experience again.

Jhana just goes away at that point… it won’t come when you’re attached – wanting – desiring it. It just won’t.

When you get into Jhana 5-8 the states are so intense… for lack of another word – that few can get past them – especially realizing that level 8 is supposedly the one Buddha launched into enlightenment from.

Much better that you don’t even know what Jhana 8 is. I didn’t have any idea I was at the last door.

Don’t read anything about Buddhism. Just follow the physical steps of meditation and see what happens.

Download my ebook about how to go about it. It’s basically just what I did. Without the ‘-ism” … without the fluff that goes with any religion and that makes experiences you have while meditating bigger than life – and ultimately get in the way of you getting anywhere at all.

If you have any questions about anything or want to attack me for discounting all the books you’ve read and all the attachment you’ve built up in your mind about how the process leading to Nirvana should be – feel free in the comments below.

Meditation – Numbness – Stillness – Peace

Meditation Journal Entry from 1999

one just finished meditating for a half hour. A fairly blank peace came over the self rather quickly (immediately). The back didn’t hurt. The mind didn’t wander far. At one point the breathing slowed and the body started the numbness that used to be familiar. Now this one couldn’t even remember what it was like.

One felt static, until the mind became tired and started to drift toward sleep.

There was a stillness. There was a quietness of the mind for a time unlike its state for months now.

There is good in meditation, and peace. There is no other place to find it. It certainly isn’t in love. It certainly isn’t in other things coming to mind at the moment. Not in work. Not in sport and the ensuing competition it creates.

One talked to Hannah today. Her discoveries in the World are so FRESH. Her foot was twinkling today she told Laura. Apparently, it had fallen asleep. We adults have such drab phrases for events. No wonder we are bored and seek outside stimulation and stimulation of the mind through looking at the future and the past. If we were in the present we could see so much more. Experience so much more. Live so much more.

New Sitting Meditation Position | 1998

Meditation Journal Entry – Sitting Position during Meditation

I found that meditation by sitting in a chair and putting my feet up on a table is the easiest way for me to relax. I feel no back/foot/leg pain and am able to lose myself in concentration on breath more easily. I also find that when I hear outside noises like fern moving about or the phone ringing that I seem to go into disassociating more easily and start immediately if I’ve been stuck in some thought process or emptiness up until that point. I am not attached to anything while I sit. I am just focused on breathing or else nothing at all.

I will continue to sit in a chair (the swivel one if possible) and put my feet up on the table with a sheet or towel under them for comfort. I don’t know that I believe that suffering while meditating must occur to progress through stages of meditation.

I’ve read that wisdom comes through two things…concentration of mind and awareness of attachment and labeling in wakefulness. For Ajarn Chah he felt his mind go inward and break apart his body, then come outward, then go back in and break apart the entire world! When he snapped out of that meditation he was in a changed state that appears to continue. It doesn’t reverse?

The World is in a Bind | Pain

There is currently nothing that offers total relief from the pain of the world. I mean, there are promises of it… every religion promises it, if you work hard enough and do the right thing enough. Some promise it in the afterlife, others in this very life. I’m concerned more with this life – since it is all I know I have. We have this life here – it’s tangible, if it’s a dream, it’s a dream we believe in and can play it to our heart’s content. Reality is real enough that it makes sense to play the game we’re experiencing while we’re here immersed in it.

I’ve been wondering – where does the individual go to release all the pain of life?

Everyone is pained. Everyone is hurting in some way. The hurt, whether brought on from external or internal circumstances – is hurt all the same. Sure there are blends of them, and they might hurt more when blended.

What does someone do to completely eradicate or escape pain?

The closest thing I’ve found – has been meditation. It’s a mind number for sure. I say it numbs the mind, but in truth it is more of a slowing it down. The natural state of the mind doesn’t appear to be fast or slow to me… it appears to just keep up with whatever one throws at it. Throw little – it slows. Throw heaps – it struggles to catch up.

The natural state of the mind appears to be remaining in sync with whatever surrounds it. A mind that is wound-up won’t be for very long in the middle of a forest while doing walking meditation. It naturally calms. Likewise, the meditative, relaxed, and slow mind isn’t to be found in the chaos of war.

People of the world usually have minds that are restless, or at least usually very active. We wonder if there might be an “out”. Some way to avoid speeding up the mind, and find rest and peace – no matter what the surroundings are like. Today this idea is more important than any other time throughout the history of mankind. We are more stressed, with more to “do” and more to “be” than at any other time – as a whole. The whole of mankind has been tweaked up. There is more to know today than ever before. Nobody is able to remain on top of everything, and so we pick and choose – according to what is important in our lives for: survival; safety; to lessen pain; increase pleasure; increase freedom; and happiness.

Some people do a decent job of it. Others fail catastrophically. Even among those that can manage the stress of the world and what it requires to live at the peak of playing the game – long for a way to escape it all, and yet continue to live safely, with little pain, with freedom, and with happiness. No matter how hard one plays the game, it becomes obvious to everyone that winning the game of life and keeping up with all the stresses and making enough money for yourself and those you love – doesn’t give one peace of mind… real peace.

So there must be something else…

Many search along the traditional channels, beginning with religion. Some think Christianity holds the answer, Hinduism, Buddhism, or some other ism. I haven’t found that to be true, I have found truth within many different religions, but ultimate truth – long lasting and perfect truth – no. I don’t see it within the context of any religion, and I don’t suspect there is any point in looking at a religion as the answer for what we’re searching for. Religion inevitably piles on top of the truths, some ‘fluff’ that is more attractive to pay attention to – and pulls the focus away from whatever truth exists.

This is why meditation is, to me, a worthwhile activity to pursue. Instead of add fluff – it takes away from it. Instead of listening to what a host of other followers say – you practice by yourself and listen to nobody else. It is said that meditation is like an experiment. You learn a lot about the self as you practice. I have found this to be true.

One might think that the self – what we do, what our mind does, is not really such a deep level of study. The opposite is true… there is so much to look inside one’s self, that it’s a source of endless fascination for me. I can’t say I’ve ever been bored by the practice. I’ve been bored by the thought of practicing meditation – yes. By the act? Never.

There is so much to learn about our selves as the mind is corralled and made to pay attention on few stimuli. It is probably the most fascinating single thing I have ever known – this secret that the mind is like a vibrating piece of stretched rubber on a drum head. When anything happens that can be sensed by the sensory organs of the body – it is registered there on the drum head in the form of vibration. More becomes of it after that, but to me – it’s just fascinating to watch as the initial vibration occurs.

The vibration from external stimuli might amount to something else – something fascinating and complex… like the butterfly’s wings flapping starts a chain of events that affect the entire world. Literally the vibration could amount to something like that… or, on the other hand, it could amount to nothing at all. The vibration can occur – and that’s it – there is nothing more to it at all.

The difference between the two states is just – something versus nothing. Yes vs. no. On vs. off. That is the only difference between the germination of either the most complex ideas, actions, emotions, and results – and nothing at all.

Something I’ve noticed is that the initial vibration does not always lead to a giant chain of events, and probably it doesn’t. The potential is there sometimes – and it happens, but usually the chain of events that happens as the result of some initial stimulus touching the mind’s tympanic drum head – leads nowhere in particular. Most times this is true.

The mind is continually bombarded by stimuli, most of which have no real or lasting effect on the individual for very long.

Meditation and slowing, stopping the mind, is interesting because every single vibration outside the self – goes nowhere at all. It shakes the mind ever so gently – and ends there. There is nothing to come of it. The mind remains balanced then. Still – yet responsive. Responsive meaning, it registers the stimuli coming in – it reacts to it in real time, but as soon as the stimuli is finished – the mind is also finished with it. Memory is not triggered to bring it up again. Memory works, it is recording – but, it is not replaying at all. There is no playback, the machine of the mind is only moving forward – experiencing stimuli all the time, and silently – effortlessly, recording it – without going back.

Meditation then, is the ultimate in the state of mindfulness. There is no future or past, only the present moment, and the present moment could be hundredths of a second in time, or without time at all.

 

Suan Mokkh Buddhist Temple, Chaiya, Thailand

I wouldn’t consider myself a Buddhist, but I do love visiting the Buddhist temples around Thailand. Just the other week I went to one of my favorite temples – Wat Suan Mokkhabalaram in Chaiya, near Surat Thani, well south of Bangkok by about 600 kilometers.

It’s a forest temple, Thais say Tudong style. One of my favorite Buddhist monks, Buddhadasa Bhikku founded it, and though he has passed on, it’s a remarkable place to go and do some walking around, taking photos, and meditating when I go alone. Here are some photos, hope you enjoy them and visit the temple sometime…

Theravada Buddhist Monks walking at a forest temple called Wat Suan Mokkh in Chaiya, Thailand. Buddhist wheel of becoming and hanging skeletons at Suan Mokkh Buddhist temple in Chaiya, Thailand.

A Buddhist monk's hut or kuti in southern Thailand at Wat Suan Mokkh in Chaiya province.
A private monk hut at a forest monastery in southern Thailand. Could you sit here all day and meditate? It probably seems ideal, right?
Siddhartha Gautama Buddha in anorexic state meditation.
We can learn from this image of Buddha in an anorexic state while meditating. Didn’t work for him, won’t work for you. Don’t bother starving yourself…

Large painting of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming at a building located on the grounds of the famous Buddhist temple, Wat Suan Mokkh in Chaiya, Thailand. Shaved Buddhist nuns meditate in Thailand at Suan Mokkh temple in Chaiya, Southern Thailand. Colorful rooster at Suan Mokkh Buddhist temple in Southern Thailand in the province of Chaiya, in the South of Thailand. Men's dormitory - second floor - shows sleeping arrangements at Buddhist temple, Wat Suan Mokkh, in Southern Thailand's province of Chaiya. A spirit is giving eyeballs out to followers on the wall of a painted building at Chaiya's Suan Mokkh Buddhist temple in Southern Thailand. This poster of Buddhadasa Bhikku, a Buddhist monk and abbot, is on the top floor of the art building at Suan Mokkh Temple in Southern Thailand's province of Chaiya.

Art (Paintings) at Suan Mokkh

 

Meditation Catch-22

Meditation Catch-22 – Don’t Want the Experiences

I was lucky when I began meditating. I didn’t have any illusion about what states I might reach, what levels. I didn’t study any of that, because I just couldn’t have cared less at the time I started meditation.

To me, meditation was just an attempt at relaxation for twenty to thirty minutes. Immediately I began to experience the benefits of sitting still and focusing on the breath.

My normally running rampant mind – complete with Attention Deficit Disorder – began to slow down a little bit in the first couple of weeks. To be honest, it slowed down very little for the first month or so. Then, little by little, meditation began to have an amazing effect on my mind.

Thoughts began to pop up in less frequency than they had when I first began meditating. This was my first real taste of the mental relaxation that could result from a meditation practice. It was fantastic because once it started, it continued to operate on my fragmented mind, slowing it down even more over the next few months.

It was a few months from the time I started to when the mind first began stopping altogether. I mean, thoughts stopped. They just didn’t pop up at all for some stretch of time… seconds at first, then minutes and tens of minutes.

So, this initial benefit of meditation was actually two-fold.

1. My body relaxed. It felt better than sleeping during meditation because I was aware of how at peace the body was sitting silently without movement, stress, something to ‘do’. It was a great form of relaxation, and if this was all I ever got from meditating, it would have been enough. This was, after all, just what I was in search of when I first sat down to see what meditation was all about.

2. My mind relaxed. As I said, the mind began slowing the number of thoughts down that popped up while meditating, and slowed down to the point of stopping. This was unexpected, but really quite a bit more amazing than just having a relaxed physical body. I’d never experienced a relaxed mind before. I was exploring new ground, and that was exciting.

The next benefits, the awesome states of mind that followed the mind stopping, were all a surprise to me. I wasn’t looking for them. I didn’t know what they were when they came. When I first had the idea to meditate, I read some Buddhist books on it, and I found them to be filled with what I thought must be superstitions, and magical thinking. To me Buddhism was just another -ism that I didn’t care about learning. In the past I was a Catholic, then a Christian. Around age 22 I finally stopped reading the bible and had a World Religion class in college. I began then to question all religions and beliefs of every sort. One that you might not know about me, is that I questioned national-ism quite a bit. I found it to be just like many religions, and tossed it aside with the rest.

So, the idea of Buddhist meditation didn’t appeal to me much. After reading a couple of meditation books and eastern religion books, it looked to me like meditation could also just be a physical exercise. Well, physical and mental. I could sit and relax and watch my breathing, focus on it with my mind, and gain some sort of physical relaxation from it. What I could gain mentally, I didn’t have any idea about. As I said, it was like a bonus when I began to have some mental peace from it as well.

So, the mind had begun to stop during some of my meditation sessions while focusing on the breath. When it stopped, various things resulted. Experiences came and went. At times I would focus on the breath more, to make that focus laser sharp. Other times I would sit in the stillness of the no-thought state and just observe… without there being a separate observer. Hard to explain if you’ve not experienced it. It was as if being alive for the first time, without thought interrupting and changing the experience.

Soon various experiences came. Some were mellow. Some were filled with energy, emotion, and even weirdness. The mind is so extremely powerful that it can produce shocking experiences that change your life. Eventually, Jhana started and that was really a life-changing time period of my life. It revolutionized my entire being. It was incredibly powerful, not just the states themselves, but what happened after the meditation when the states had dissipated. There was this vibrant state of mind that was clear and free. Really something to experience.

Anyway…

The point of this article was to tell you about the Catch-22 situations in meditation and progress into the thoughtless and Jhana states.

Probably you have either read a book or two about meditation, or you have read articles online, seen some videos at Youtube about meditation, talked with a meditation teacher, a monk, a friend about meditation, or something like this in order to understand a bit about meditation.

I think most people don’t have a very simple goal in mind of just meditating to relax the body to start. So, I’m different that way. I’m also different because I didn’t know what mind states existed for relaxation, and didn’t really care. I was sure that studying them would be pointless because I didn’t think my mind would ever slow down enough to allow progress in that area. Attention Deficit Disorder is really an all-encompassing problem that affects the mind during all waking hours. I enjoyed about an hour of slower mind processes in the early morning if I woke up around 5:00 a.m., but otherwise my mind was fully engaged and chugging out the thought streams 100%.

The Catch-22 with meditation is that, in order to progress to the point where the mind stops and Jhanas and other experiences are possible, you must let go of any desire for it to happen.

Teachers of all sorts and I’ve seen a lot of videos and read a lot of books by this point, seem to go about telling students of meditation how to go about it in ways that I don’t think help them come to any real understanding of how to go from here to THERE. ‘There’ being the goal.

The Catch-22 is that the more you listen to these teachers, the less you are going to be able to experience similar things. The possibility for nibbana – the freeing of the mind from all suffering, gets further and further away as you make it more and more important in your mind. So, the problem is that building up the importance of attaining nibbana, nirvana, enlightenment, moksha, whatever you want to call it, hinders your ability to do just that.

In my case, I didn’t have any Catch-22 to get over. I wasn’t focused on stopping the mind. I wasn’t focused on Jhana. I wasn’t focused on enlightenment or anything like that. I just wanted to relax. Because that was my goal, and because I didn’t know anything about Jhanas, they came easily and without much difficulty at all. Within a year I’d seen all the jhanas a number of times. My mind changed, my ego changed, my life changed. I’m who I am today because of these changes.

The classic way to show you the Catch-22 is to point you to this video of Bruce Lee in one of his old films. I don’t know that Bruce Lee was enlightened, or not, but it’s a really great example to show you what’s happening with the teacher trying to show the student how to get ‘there’.

Bruce Lee and the Classic Catch-22 >

Starting after the 1 minute mark, Bruce Lee tells the student, “It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon…”

Bruce smacks his head. “Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory.”

So, Bruce is showing him that the way, the instructions that he is giving are only pointing the way to the truth. They are not the truth themselves. The finger is not where to concentrate but beyond that. The finger is like a tool to lead the student to realize the truth on his own. Focusing on the finger will lead to nothing. The realization must come from inside.

So, every student that follows a teacher, a method, some rules, some path to get to enlightenment, to reach Jhana or some other experience, will experience this Catch-22.

I’ve seen it with Jiddu Krishnamurti teaching students. I’ve seen it with U.G. Krishnamurti talking to people. I’ve seen it with Thich Nhat Hanh. I’ve seen it with some monks here in Thailand. I’ve seen it in the Buddhist texts.

Every teacher goes about trying to help students reach ‘there’ but I think so very few people get it at all.

I’m going to try to show you what it is all about here.

If you WANT to reach a state of mind like the Buddha, like some of these teachers who have experienced ‘higher’ states of mind, you cannot get there. In order to get ‘there’ you must give up the wanting for it. The Catch-22 is that when you want it – it cannot come. It’s like – the more important you make this goal, the less chance that you will ever see it.

I look at the monks here in Thailand that have tried for forty and more years to reach even the first few Jhanas, and they continually fail during meditation to have those experiences.

Why is that?

They have made the goal of reaching Jhana – of stopping the mind – SO IMPORTANT that it gets in the way. It prevents the person from getting into these states.

U. G. Krishnamurti tells people that they cannot get ‘there’ through a conscious willful act to reach it. He says it is impossible. I agree. It cannot happen. However, his style of teaching is to continually tell people there is nothing there. There is nothing to reach. There is nothing to ‘get’.

In some sense, he is correct. However, I approach it a different way.

During meditation, we need to be able to give up the wanting for a brief time. The focus needs to be on something else, so the mind can stop, and then we can move forward by giving up everything that arises after that. In the thoughtless state there can not be any wanting. There cannot be any desire to go ‘get’ some experience. The absolute ONLY way to have anything more occur is to keep the mind empty of thought, of desire, of will, of ego, and then naturally, the experiences come. As each experience comes and is experienced, one then lets go of it and the next experience comes. And so on.

 

 

Frustration While Meditating | 2005?

Meditation Journal Entry – Frustration while Meditating

I sat and meditated tonight and tried to keep mindfulness of breathing for about 30-40 minutes. I was pretty focused on attaining some sort of diff. experience and so none was attained. I was actually getting frustrated that nothing was happening and that I couldn’t concentrate because of things happening in the environment (noise). I tried laying down and that helped, but then the phone rang and I stopped to answer it. That ended that attempt.

It’s funny that no matter how little it is that I desire to repeat an experience – a jhana or another absorption experience it won’t come until I let that desire go entirely. Sometimes I can let it go, other times it just hangs around in the mind and won’t fully disappear. This is what I’m talking about when I say that Buddhist monks and other followers of religion must have a SERIOUSLY difficult time with getting into the jhanas and then repeating the jhanas as they start to occur because so much is built up around the idea of attaining jhana that when it comes it is like the holy grail. People get too excited about it and about repeating it – and it may never come back! I’ve met monks here in Thailand that have never entered Jhana 1. How is that possible?

Don’t put a big focus on Jhana and it may come. I didn’t know what jhana was when it came. Actually, all through the jhanas I didn’t know what was going on at the time. Then, years later a western monk, Santikaro, told me over the phone that this was normal experience. Jhannic experience.

Breathing Meditation Phrases that Help | 1998

Breathing In and Out Phrases to Help Attention and Numbness

I’ve made a commitment to dedicate some time to meditation a few times per week for a half an hour or however much time I have to do so. I just finished an hour session.

I was able to stay focused on my breathing and on my own thoughts. Outside noises didn’t interfere much at all after 10-15 minutes. I was able to continue through the neighbor’s dog’s persistent barking without getting upset at all.  I was able to remain very still and comfortable throughout the hour.  I am really calm when I get out of it too.

Right now I feel a real sense of tranquility and evenness. I am not high, nor low. Just even and tolerant and unstressed. I experienced the numbness stage today. My hands were numb though almost the entire hour, and at one point I felt my mind try to leave the confines of my body.

At a couple points my body started to dissolve from feeling and all there was that existed was mind. I am going to read more about non-attachment tonight from either Thich Nhat Hanh’s or one of the books that Dr. Supawanich gave me. I used breathing in I smile to myself, breathing out I relax for a bit, as well as one I made up, breathing in I don’t attach to anything.

Breathing out I let everything go…  I like this one a lot…

Fatness Feeling During Meditation | 1998

Meditation Journal Entry about the Fatness Feeling

I meditated two nights ago on the futon in one of the bedrooms sitting crossed-legged. I sat and concentrated on breathing for about an hour with sporadic focused concentration. Then I heard the answering machine kick on without the phone ringing because we shut the ringer off. This caught my conscious attention and focused my mind away from the ‘task’ at hand –which was that I was trying to attain the same numb/fatness state that I had tone two previous occasions.

The instant after I focused on the machine I felt the numbness starting in my fingers and forearms. I just concentrated on the feeling and tried to experience it fully without losing it by attaching to it. The numbness/fatness continued for about 20 minutes.

I think it ended and didn’t go further because I was hoping however lightly that it would lead to the mind/body shape changing experience that I felt before. This attachment was just enough to keep the feeling I sought elusive and unrealized. I really need to just experience what is happening and not be focused on result.

I think I am just in such a state of amazement that the numbness/fatness/ etc. can happen– that I am focusing on it consciously too much and putting it thru my value system while it is happening. My future sessions need to not have any expectations. The way to non-expectation is through just experiencing the event, not concentrating on non-expectation.

Disenchantment Wipes Out All Attachment | 1998

Disenchantment or, Non-Attachment Arises

Over the past couple of days (this is sometime in 1998) while meditating I haven’t written anything! Actually weeks and probably a month. There seems to be no want or desire to do it to record it.

I found that when I get upset at Fern I also am able to see the worthlessness of other things at that time (worthless strivings or cravings).

What I’m referring to is when I got mad at Fern, I went riding the bike in the rain. It was nice. I was calm, thoughtful, and insightful. After the ride I went into the garage and meditated on the Jacuzzi. There weren’t any bugs and it was very relaxing with the rain outside. I began to see that the craving I had for a WWW web page was not something that was worthwhile because my reasons for wanting one were so that I could say that I had one and so I could create nifty stuff on it for others to read and think how smart I am. I became disenchanted immediately and the attachment went away immediately. I dropped it completely and instantly–just like the Buddhadassa Bhikku’s Handbook for Mankind said it would happen. I remember it happening in the case of my wanting to hang photos of slides that I had shot in New York in the house all over my den (ours) (the). I gave that up instantaneously one day because I realized that it was a waste of money and effort.

This has also happened when I erased the nude pics that I found on the internet. It happened when I was cutting the grass one morning and I realized that I had on my 130 dollar Nikes and that they were gonna get green from the freshly cut grass. I didn’t think twice about it. I just gave up my attachment for the shoes.. It happened the other day when I realized that I had given up on my attachment for the Honda Accord –however little I did have–because I walked past it and remembered that I hadn’t worried about Fern driving it at all since the first two days that she drove it.

It happened when I realized that I really didn’t care about what we did with the floors. It happened when I realized that I didn’t care about the large sum of $ that we got from Dr. Supawanich for our wedding. I even carelessly misplaced it! We thought it was lost for a while.

It happened when I realized that my search for a palmtop computer was motivated not by my need to be in touch with the internet every minute of the day, but because it was a new toy that I could possibly justify by claiming it was for our financial health. It happened when I went to the computer store on Dale Mabry hwy and only when I had returned did I realize that I had worn my old sneakers there and back. I would never have done this previously. It happened when I realized that we didn’t need a $300+ dog (J. Russell Terrier) as our second dog. A mutt would do if cute and short-haired. It happened when I realized that the floor (tile) is ok, and doesn’t have to be fit for royalty.

All the above are instances of non-attachment and disenchantment. The mind has found no solace in the above things and nothing to justify worrying over them. They are what they are, nothing more. They can have no emotional effect on me. I’ve non-attached myself to them in a sort of automatic way without having done so consciously, just as a result of sitting and mindfulness during the day.

This is really a liberating feeling. I feel free from these material binds that have held me. I can only continue in the same way so that the list grows to encompass everything, every abstract, every person, every belief.

I’m signing off now, too much thunder outside….

Meditation and Numbness, No Body, No Self | 1998

Meditation, Numbness, No body, No Self

I read part of J. Krishnamurti’s book, Commentaries on Living at the bookstore. (in 1998)

I also read a bit about living with Kundalini. By a practitioner of some yoga in which the goal is to release Kundalini energy. This is a direct account of the awakening of this energy in the individual. The book loses some credibility by attempting to explain the physiological changes that are taking place as the energy unfolds and expands his mind, yet the language describing this unfolding is particularly rich and understandable. The author speaks of the cellular changes that must be taking place and from which parts of the body that the Kundalini energy flow must stem. Kind of hokey, eh? I imagine that the reason he explains it as such is that he constantly expresses that he feels vibrations in his cells or at his core.

I meant to write in the journal yesterday of my experience meditating the night previous. Upon finding that I had calmed down much through awareness of breathing one next put the focus upon not focusing on anything. This immediately started the feeling of fatness and numbness that was felt previously. A certain elation was felt at discovering that this method produced this result–as it was somewhat elusive for the past month or more. The feeling kind of petered out after 20 minutes or so because of so much attachment to it. One could disassociate immediately from the observer of breath position to one that was focused on nothing at all. The periods of concentration seemed rather short (minutes) before a thought would creep in (or, elation and joy at feeling this experience). One tried hard not to focus on the feeling–and this was probably the reason for it lasting as long as it did. The next step would probably be to extend this period of mindlessness for periods longer than just minutes at a time without interruption. One felt a certain detachment from ones physical self at the command to disassociate. It was a stepping to the side of ones self that was felt/sensed. No particular visions/photos were seen, just the feeling of “not being” was present.

Changing States of Consciousness While Meditating | 1998

Meditation Journal Entry from 1998

Mind Shift… Conscious Dimension Shift…

Sitting in the reclining chair with my feet up on my desk I was mindful of breath for 15 minutes while fern showered. I settled down in about 10 minutes and started to shift to different consciousness states and patterns in my mind. At about 13 minutes I felt my whole mind shift to a different place. Not a different level, just to a diff. plane, dimension, or 2nd order change in the mind’s process. I felt as if the old mind’s ways were displaced or shifted. Then fern called from the bathroom for a towel. Oh well right? I felt anger well up inside for being disturbed during this incredible time and then it gradually gave way when I felt her in my arms and her arms around me.

Even in that state I was able to become attached to the idea that it would continue… but now – nothing…I feel very relaxed now, and mellow.

Emotions, Spontaneous Mindfulness | 1997

Meditation Journal Entry – 1997

Meditation tonight. Shut off lights, stared at the orange glow from incense. It was easy to concentrate for a while. Then the mind became pretty empty.  Some emotions of fear came up and  I cried for the first time during meditating. It was neat!

The eyes watered and one truly felt sad. It cleared up in just 30 seconds or so. One then felt nothing again.  One tried to make ones self happy and forced it to come! One felt light and carefree, on top of the world, and thankful for everything that Fern and this one have. Thankful to who?  Good question…

From then on pretty much during meditation one felt restless and unable to let go completely.

During doing the dishes today one had a moment of satori or brief enlightenment. As one looked to the left one had a moment that was unlike any other waking experience. One saw the dishes and the light in a new way as if seeing light for the first time and being surprised or startled by it. One had just been concentrating on mindfulness of doing the dishes when one glanced to the left and had the moment. It was unlike the other similar experiences because the moment was untouched by time, judgment, knowledge, emotion, and it was intensely vivid/lucid.

Numbness, Missing Body Parts | 1998

Meditation Journal entry

The numbness is very strange… it is like the body is missing… absent… or is it only my perception of the body… some part of the mind that is blanking out the body? It starts in one place – hands or feet usually and then progresses to encompass the entire body… and there is no feeling of anything – but there is still mind. There is no feeling of self – of “me” – but, there is a mind… there is a watcher that is observing… i can still focus attention on something – whatever I choose… there are occasionally thoughts too…

Note – this was taken from my old meditation journal and happened sometimes between 1998-1999.

Meditation Journal Entry 25 | 1998

I just meditated for 25-40 mins. In the blue room of the house.   The mind became calm eventually–but followed many thoughts.  Probably because this one is tired.  One felt numbness.  One was presented with many visual photos –mostly of demons and ghouls–like stuff at an antique shop we saw days ago and the Aztec stuff. One saw the mind as a mailbox to put (hang) thoughts onto.  Mind is a depository to hang things to use later.

One saw thoughts being hung up on the box as one let go of each one in the mind.  One felt some joy today as one realized that we all are human.  One felt very happy to be alive and openly smiled a few times.  One felt numb, light, and unbothered by outside noises–on just kept bringing the focus back to breathing.  The butt hurts and the foot fell asleep–floor is very hard here. I say these silently to myself as I watch the breath:

Breathing in One smiles to the self.

Breathing out one relaxes.

or

In:  Non-attachment

Out: Let it all go

Meditation Re-Starts Journal Day 1 | 1998

Meditation Journal

1998

This morning at maybe 6:30 as one was sitting on the balcony of our 7th floor hotel room in Melbourne, Florida one saw a gentleman walking along the beach below coming towards where one was. It appeared as if he had noticed this body sitting there, but one could not be sure because there were probably 100 other rooms facing the man as well. The man appeared maybe 60 – 70. He stopped about 120 yds. Away, crossed his arms and stood staring up towards one. At this time one felt strongly that this man was looking at ones self.

So there we stared for perhaps 2-4 minutes. This body moved not a bit, nor did the man move. Many things went through this mind at this time. One felt threatened at first–then had a realization that this man could not harm one from our current positions, nor would he ever be able to identify this face if we passed right by each other at some layer time. No threatening gesture was made save the staring.

One had a thought that one didn’t wish the man to feel any threat coming from one’s own self because it may appear to this man as if this one was threatening him by watching him walk down the beach when he thought he was in seclusion away from prying eyes. One wondered how soon the man would break the stare and continue on his way. One wondered if the stare should be broken or if something could be observed here.

One chose to observe. One tried to make peace thru the distance. One closed the eyes to lessen any threat. One felt no “self” so the man would not see a self and feel threatened–nor would he feel any ill-will. One imagined no self, no time, no thought, and no man staring and blanked out for a time.

Upon opening one’s eyes the man still stood staring–but then turned away–arms still folded and walked toward the water with his head down–perhaps questioning why he had bothered to stop and stare at this body. Perhaps he wondered if this one slept–or had died. This one closed the eyes again and thought of nothingness.

When the eyes opened the man stood again, much closer this time–perhaps 80 feet away and looked right at one for a short time with his arms crossed. This one remained motionless and the man turned and walked off out of sight. One thought briefly to raise one’s arm and wave to let the man see one meant no harm or threat–but this didn’t happen.

Instead, one attempted to know the man thru this space without any communication save us looking at each other, strangers from a distance.

Day 4 – Intensive Meditation Practice

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 4

In the evening I sat in the back of the apartment on the floor. I put a candle there so at least I could see the roaches or spiders if I felt one on me. I don’t know how (or why) meditators in caves in Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, etc – tortured themselves by not moving if they felt some creature on them. There are stories of monks with cobras crawling across them that didn’t move or bother to open their eyes. How is that possible? Only in the very advanced states of meditation could I see it possible… most times, out of the question.

I’ve been experimenting with a more strict half-lotus position to see if it helps my back pain. Surprisingly – it really does make me more stable and lessen the pain. Of course, the pain in my foot that’s pulled far up my thigh has increased quite a bit. Still, I’m able to sit for 30-40 minutes, more I guess if there was a want to. There’s no want to.

I felt during some parts of the meditation that an expansion of mind was starting. There was relatively good concentration – I could choose to focus on the breath for 6 or 10 breaths if I chose to – and did sometimes. As I’ve said – focusing on breathing is not really something that feels right at this time since the mind is calm and nearly still. Watching the breathing is a great tool to reach that point – once there – I usually drop it.

Instead, I focused on the pain in my back, in my foot. I focused on totally relaxing. I noticed again tonight a couple times that there was tension in my face and neck when I checked on them. That’s strange – but, it reflects the fact that I’ve not meditated much in so long. I’ve forgotten how important it is to completely relax EVERYTHING about the body – even the face. Maybe especially the face.

Once I relaxed those spots – the mind expansion started. It’s almost a vertigo feeling. As if the mind, head, body are all separating from each other and it gives one a feeling of going over a small hill on the road – you know the one kids say – WHOA!!! when it happens? Yeah, that’s a little bit like what it feels like – but it lasts for seconds, even minutes.

Sometimes it will go forward and start an expansion of the mind – a feeling that the mind is expanding to fill all space… this time, no. This time just a little taste and uncertainty about what it was doing. I was attached slightly to what was going to happen – and that’s always an experience killer.

The reason I was slightly attached to the outcome – and curious whether it would lead to a jhana or other state is because since I’ve had this very quiet mind over the last couple months and I haven’t focused on the breath to gain the concentration usually necessary to enter the states, I haven’t been able to understand what goes on before entering the deeper states.

It is as if I’m skipping the earlier states – bliss, joy, the mild concentrated state. It’s as if no matter how I slow the breath now – on purpose – it doesn’t necessarily lead to the deeper states like it did so many times before. I felt like I had a little control over going deeper before when I was able to focus on the breath. Now, without that – not sure what the process is…

So, I just sit and experience the virtually still mind.

Tonight was a peek at one of the deeper levels – and yet my attachment to have the experience stopped the state from taking over. Attachment on any level kills the deeper states. Funny that it’s there – this is rather new. I’ve not been attached to any state for so long. Now that I’ve made this decision to go forward and meditate regularly I guess there’s some want for the process to go just like before.

Something to think about.

Sorry, no audio or video as I noticed I’m saying the same thing writing and speaking. Better to do one or the other! Today it’s writing. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try to do a MP3.

Sawasdee krup…

Day 5 – Intensive Meditation Practice

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 5

Today I woke up feeling well. There was some left over peacefulness from the night before as I went to sleep in a very relaxed state. The mind was exceptionally quiet.

I’ll do an mp3 and talk rather than write – my fingers hurt from typing so much!

Day 5 MP3 (10:57, 2.5MB) (I will find this – Ihave it somewhere!)

Sawasdee krup…

Day 6 – Intensive Meditation Practice

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 6

Today I awoke without any back pain at all. None. It was surreal. Not only that but there something even more ridiculous… I felt as if I was in a meditative state most of the day. I didn’t even meditate because there was no point at all – everything I did today was meditation. I was in the moment most/all of the day.

I couldn’t feel the body well. It was numb, but not unfeeling – more like tingling numb if that makes sense. I felt similar to what it’s like in meditation when I lose feeling in legs, feet, arms, legs… and most of chest. It was like that nearly all day. Every time I looked at it anyway.

My mood was light and relaxed. It was as if in one of the early Jhana’s… the joy, the ease of mind, of body – no stress… just in a good place mentally.

An amazing day… not at all sure, why… it just came. That’s what it does – comes on its own schedule…

Oh, it rained all day and in the evening the frogs were everywhere in the back, more than the other day when I recorded them… here’s a short mp3 clip of their amazing sound… (- lost this temporarily. :P)

Day 8 – Intensive Meditation Practice

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 8

Virtually no back pain still. My ‘luck’ is holding…

If I thought it rained a lot yesterday – today it’s a flood. The rain came and went no less than 10 times today – sometimes for periods of an hour or more. Just when you think it might stop – it poured down.

I stayed in the room nearly all day and did no exercise. I don’t like to ride the motorcycle in the rain as Thai people turn from the worse drivers in the world to just plain scary in the rain. The sirens were going off all day – accidents around town. Seriously – I’ve seen the results of 4 accidents in 3 days recently while it’s been raining. That’s only 4 that I saw… how many were there? Probably 100.

I spent the day writing up sales pages for the various web sites I’ve built. This one I won’t sell, but the rest can go. I spend far too much time updating them and posting stories and articles to them. What I really should do is focus on writing books since it’s what I think I can do well and I’m so tired of having 15 web sites running at once.

Today I did no meditation and very little mindfulness. I did check in to see what the mind was like a few times during the day and it was very quiet – nothing stressful going on – and no numbness in the body like I was experiencing some deeper state of calm. Just a normal day without anything but working on web pages today.

Oh – we did do a video about eating durian today. You can find that at “www.JoysThaiFood.com” blog as soon as we get it up there – might be a few days as the upload is 12MB and it requires a fast internet connection, which I don’t have at home.

Sawasdee krup…..

Day 11 – Intensive Meditation Practice

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 11

Today started out with rain, ended with rain and had lots of rain in the middle. It’s unbelievable that it could rain every single day for weeks at a time. It’s more unbelievable that there are so many people with motorcycles here that just ignore it. I have trouble ignoring it sometimes since drivers are not very courteous or skilled here in Thailand – especially around the crowded tourist areas.

The other thing about rain is that it affects my eating times. I don’t want to drive in it – so I just sit here on the computer until it stops. I have no refrigerator or stock of food in the house, but that will change today. I realized last night as it was pouring down rain at 8 pm in the dark on the way back from picking up my g/f (commonlaw wife) that I really need to be smarter about having food IN the apartment that we can eat so we don’t need to drive another 6 km out of our way to get to a restaurant in the rain to eat. I’ll load up on things we can eat today… tuna in cans, instant noodles, maybe I’ll splurge and get a Skippy Peanut Butter jar – since I seem to be having protein cravings a lot over this past year. We have cheap versions of RITZ crackers that go well with the pb.

(note 27 Feb 2019 – we were living on $300 per month from my wife’s job at a local travel agency. I was making little as I was trying to ramp up some websites to provide income. We had very scarce food!)

So – I worked on the web sites a bit today and finalized the sales pages for the sites I want to get rid of. I am not much into writing blog posts and they definitely take me away from other things I could be doing – namely, writing books. I have this idea that I’m a book writer, not a blog writer. We’ll see if that’s true or not if I can sell these blogs and get out from under them. 🙂

I went to the temple around 3 pm. There was no rain at that moment. I ate som tam at the stand there and she gave me day old sticky rice which was really lame. I left it for her to reuse if she wants. I made a mental note not to go there anymore for som tam. There are only two good som tam places in the whole area, that was never one of them but it was convenient if I hadn’t eaten – again, because of rain!

So – I grabbed 2 cookie packs for 5 baht (15 cents) each, 2 raisin breads for 10 baht each and headed up the mountain. At the top, I met with many people who were in the mood to talk. Girls from Poland, Czechoslovakia… wow. A young couple from New Zealand.

Then, I was walking down to my private meditation spot and I saw my favorite monk – Pra Pornpitak. He’s a 44-year-old monk that has been at the temple for 17 years I believe. He loves to practice English with me – but usually we end up speaking much more Thai. He’s a good teacher – but WOW does he speak fast. I have a lot of trouble understanding when he forgets to tone it down a bit and goes warp-speed.

With him today was a young, 20 yr old monk that was a monk for 3 days. He would be a monk only for 7 days. Apparently, he was going to be married and it was a good idea for him to ordain for a week. He spoke no English but enjoyed my speaking Thai as he could finally converse with a foreigner!

We talked over an hour and it was getting dark. It was really cold and windy. There was rain surrounding the mountain – on all sides. Amazing to watch the bands of rain moving with the wnd over the countryside and town.

I walked down the steps in mindfulness and told some people that were going up that it was going to be dark in 30 minutes – they might want to rethink their trek because they’d get stuck in pitch black on the steps – not a good idea, they’re pretty treacherous.

I drove back to the room, put on some warm clothes and raincoat and proceeded to get soaked through while picking up my friend. Her name is Nou. Like new. But with a rising tone at the end. It means mouse.

Day 10 – Intensive Meditation Experience

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 10

Unending Mindfulness

I thought of changing the title a couple times – as it just spilled out and wasn’t very well thought out. But, the more I look at it – the more it makes sense. It was as if mindfulness was there anytime I checked. It was almost like a full day of mindfulness. It started in the morning with a ride on the motorbike. Then transitioned into a few hours on the computer. I found that the plastic chair I type on is a really good place to sit and close my eyes. Very comfortable. Maybe sitting on the floor during meditation is for people in India without chairs or something flat to sit on up off the ground.

I noticed various times when I checked in with the mind and body that the body was already tingling in my hands, arms, feet, and legs… as if ready to go into the numb state where I can’t feel them. It’s days like these that are best spent meditating all day – but I had so much work to do on the computer that I forced myself to sit and do it for a couple hours. After I ate 6 bananas and drank some water I thought I was ready for a trip up the hill. I rode over on the motorbike and found few people there. The sky was threatening to open up with showers for the 47th time in about 5 days. The rain has been unpredictable lately with the remnants of the cyclone that went through Burma. I’ve not seen it rain so hard here in May. We’re not even in the harsh rainy season yet and already I’m sure we’ve had 2 feet of rain in some places in May.

Well, there was no chair at the mountain top today so I sat on the concrete as the wind howled. It had just finished raining hard and everyone had climbed back down the steps – including the two monks I spoke with for an hour. I was all alone at the top. I cherish those times as I really enjoy sitting there to meditate. It’s very quiet. In Thailand, that’s hard to find as it’s a pretty noisy country. As I write this there are 3 young guys in their late teens two doors down chatting loudly and being teenagers. It’s 9:15 pm and in an hour I’ll be ready to sleep. They won’t – but hopefully, they’ll go inside and shut the door. Don’t they get eaten by mosquitoes? I shut my door at 6 pm because there’s far too many outside. Some people just let them feast.

So, I sat for maybe 40 minutes on the ground. Then my back began to hurt a bit. I headed over to another spot where I can sit on a raised concrete slab that’s maybe 16-18″ off the ground. I sat there for about 15 minutes – and still, some back pain. I decided to do some walking meditation… that went well. Very peaceful with nobody running around at the top of the mountain!

Then I sat for a while as the numbness really started to take over as I walked. I sat another 15 minutes and then sat with eyes open and relaxed – just enjoying the present moment.

What an amazing day, as I think back on how peaceful it was… A day spent in mindfulness is an amazing thing. I thought very little today, a nice change of pace.

Day 9 – Intensive Meditation Experience

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 9

It rained all last night – intense rain. I don’t know if this is from the Cyclone that killed all those people in Burma or not. Someone said 600,000 died. Is that unreal? In Florida, before I left we had 3 hurricanes come through that season. No more than 10 people died in all of them I’d guess. Is Burma that backward? That’s completely amazing that in this time – 2008, even 100,000 could die from a natural disaster that the world KNEW was coming. There was lots of advance warning. How does that happen?

Anyway, Southern Thailand gets its share of rain without cyclones too.

I am planning to do some exercise and walking meditation today. My mood is very calm – nothing stressing me out. No, I don’t have everything taken care of in my life – but, little has the power to affect me anymore. Meditation does that – gives one a good perspective on things.

It’s very cloudy right now – but I’ll try to go out for a bit and see what happens. I’ll write more when I return. Assuming I return… One cannot cling to the idea that there’s a future at all really – yes?

Sawasdee krup…..

Ok, I’m back. I went up the mountain twice today – thinking I had lots of energy. The 2nd time was pretty rough. It was hot – the sun was still shining on that side of the hill and there was zero wind and 95-100% humidity. It was so tough! One of the toughest times I’ve ever climbed once. But, once rested at the top and cooled off by the wind I decided to try again. Halfway up the second time, the realization hit me – wow, my heart’s beating way too fast. Much faster than usual. I took it slow from that point on – but suffered the whole way up and down.

Backing up…

From the time I started up the steps the first time – I was in complete mindfulness. That amazing thoughtless state where it’s just experiencing… very few thoughts came to mind the whole way up. I met a few people – so that helped me maintain the state. Maybe the entire way up – I had thoughts just 2-3 times. They were quick one-sentence thoughts that were just mind comments about whether there was pain behind my left knee or not… and another thing I can’t recall now.

Once at the top there were a few people. The wind was cool a couple of places around the rim of the top and while taking photos and videos I discovered a new function of my camera. I’ve had it for about 2 years. More than that. I discovered multi-burst mode. I played with that a while. Here are some images from it below… What it appears to do is fire off 16 photos in a very short time – It said 1/7.5″ So – is that 75 hundreds of a second? Not sure at all. Anyway, here are some photos from it.

Ok, on second thought – it’s not so cool. It takes 16 photos – very small and puts them in a timeline sort of format – almost like still frames from a movie clip – but the photos are so closely spaced in time that they aren’t very unique. I must not have moved the camera enough. Oh well, never mind that. Take a look at the video below instead.

More people came up the steps as the rain looked like it was going to stay away for a while. I didn’t sit at the top like I thought I might. Instead, I took photos and talked to a young couple from Dublin, Ireland. I meet people from all over the world on these trips up the hill – that’s half the reason I do them.

So, as I said – I went down and up and down again and then back home to eat some French bread from the big market which really isn’t half bad. Or maybe I don’t have a taste for bread anymore after 42 months of rice daily. I ate it plain as usual.

Tonight I was going to just eat another few bananas and call it a night – but, I realized I have some spaghetti pasta leftover in the bag. Hmm… I have some butter in the cooler… Might just be a pasta & butter night. Will sit for a while first since there is some feeling that the state is still with me, and has been all day.

It’s funny – I keep ignoring the state when it comes, and when I don’t have it – I think – hmm, wonder where it’s been. Now it’s been here since I woke up 12 hours ago and I ignore sitting and do other things… Strange how/why I do that.

Oh, before I forget – I did do a quick run around the entire top of the mountain so I could get a 360 view on video. Not sure how it turned out – but I’ll put it below once I get fast internet access. Right now I have none from home as the service must be down with all the rain.

Oh, I haven’t mentioned yet – I’m working on another site. Did I mention it? Hmm.

It’s called, GuruGone.com. Have a look if you like, it’s not finished by any means -but the basic idea is there. Might move this blog /journal over to that domain after a while or may keep it separate. Not at all sure at this point. This blog (seemlessness) has moved and even changed names over the last year. I have the seemlessness.com domain or seamlessness.com domain – can’t remember which. I could move it back there too.

Attention Deficit Disorder is NOT fun… man, if I could just be happy with it as it is…

(update 27 Feb 2019 – I haven’t had any significant ADD/ADHD since day 28 of this intensive meditation. It seems to have wiped it away. Just another massive benefit of meditation.)

Day 18 – Intensive Meditation Practice

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 18

It has been nice weather here for the past week. I spent a lot of time walking up the hill at the park (mountain). Once I tried running it and made it 3 km up only to be stopped by a splitting headache. I never get headaches when I run. There’s a slight chance it was a caffeine headache – but I don’t always drink more than one cup after breakfast and haven’t had one in a long time – a year? It started at 2 km. I ran through it until 3, and that was that. I walked a bit up, and still – was pounding really hard. Turned around and walked down in mindfulness.

I’ve spent a lot of time in mindfulness and a lot of time questioning things without coming up with anything in particular. The note I showed you a few posts ago (see below)

Is still on my table here where I do my writing. I’ve taken the hint and only really focused on the mental objects that come and go in my mind for the last week. “Mind” and “Mental objects” are the only two things legible anymore. It’s a good place to focus I guess considering meditation where I’m sitting down and watching breath – seems pointless. So, instead, I go through my day catching myself (making myself aware of) the mental objects that are there.

There seem to be less and less mental objects going on as time passes. Once I note one – it drifts away… not returning often. Sometimes not at all.

What are mental objects? You might ask…

Sensory inputs – Sounds. Touches. Emotions. Thoughts. Urges. Judging. Attachments to something (liking something, or thinking it necessary that it continue to bring happiness or keep pain away…).

Things I see – if I’m looking at them for any length of time and I realize it – I ask – what is it I’m looking at and why? I note the mental action that was taking place… and it goes away.

Things like that. Just things that are occupying the mind I make a note of.

Other than that – I’ve been thinking about starting a period of quiet to go along with this period of intense mindfulness, or meditation if you want to call it that.

I notice that when I talk I’m usually joking too much. I’m sarcastic and trying to be funny all the time with my girlfriend. Sometimes she takes it the wrong way – especially if she’s stressed from working. She has a lot of responsibility at work. A lot of people count on her to do things a certain way and to help them get through their stay. Sometimes I notice I’m not helping ease her mind any – I’m providing more anxiety… less peace and calm.

I think I’m going to try to shut up for a while. See how that goes. I think the added benefit of having me look inward more could also result. Maybe? Not sure. Let’s see what happens. Not sure if I’ll write or chat or do anything like that really. A week of quiet – that sounds about right. Let’s see if I can pull that off…

🙂

Day 28 – Intensive Meditation Practice (Last 10 Days)

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 28

It’s Friday. I spent about 10 days of being more quiet – not talking when I usually would have. Going inside instead of moving the mouth for no good reason. I realized early on in these 10 days that I needed to speak just to be cordial to people I met during the day. So, I spoke when I had to and not when I didn’t have to. ‘Have to’ meaning whether or not someone expected a response from me and wouldn’t understand if I didn’t give one. My friends understand. But, strangers?

[was a photo here]

Large queen ant – really nice colors and it was as long as my thumb is wide.
I found it under my motorcycle seat and put it in my helmet for some pics.

 

There were a couple moments of profound stillness while sitting recently. Previously I believed, or, never questioned really – that I needed to sit in a certain posture in order to meditate, focus on the breath, or be still. I’ve experimented with some other positions and found them to be much more comfortable than sitting in a half-lotus on the concrete or tiled floor, as is usually the case in Thailand. There aren’t rugs anywhere here.

As I said in a previous post – I found a flat concrete step that I sat at a few times. Like sitting on a small chair, my feet on the ground and my butt on this raised (14″?) step and lower back supported by a square column behind me. I placed my hands in my lap similar to what I do as I sit in the half-lotus – and it’s a really comfortable position.

Then I found a better position.  There is an altar at the highest spot on the mountain at Tiger Cave temple… It has a Buddha, a ganesh, and a Chinese or Indian saint of some sort – he’s memorialized various places around the temple but I don’t know his name. They are all on a raised platform about 4 feet off the level one stands at. If you walk around to the back there is a small place to sit behind the altar which faces some sheer limestone rock faces and if it’s cloudy it can be shady and a cool breezy place to sit. In the past I’ve sat in a half-lotus here and been comfortable enough.

However, recently I started just sitting in a normal sitting position, legs hanging off the platform. Dangling off I guess you could say. I rest my back fully flat against the vertical wall and close or open my eyes and watch as the body goes relaxed… then the mind stills. It’s a really nice position. I was able to sit like that without much back pain for an hour and 20 minutes once and a few times around 40 minutes. In the past I’ve not sat much past 30 minutes.

I still don’t know if there’s any reason to sit longer than 30 minutes. Well, there isn’t. But, if I have the time I allow myself to really relax and recuperate from my trip or trips up the mountain.

I’ve been speaking in Thai quite a bit to the monks and visitors I see during the day. Originally I studied vocabulary words and got the first 1000 words down pretty well. But, for the past 18 months I’ve not tried to learn new words. I realized I probably should as it’s difficult explaining some things to people with what few words I know. General conversations go fine – but it’d be nice to go a bit deeper, especially when talking with the monks about states of mind and things.

Again I’ve been offered a chance to see the private meditation platform that exists on a small hill (40m vertical elevation) close to the foothills area. Every time I go up the padlock is locked – sometimes from the other side – so I know someone is meditating there and it’s an active spot. Pra Pornpitak offered to take me next time we meet at the bottom of the mountain – problem is, we’re always at the top when we see each other.

My friend is going away for a couple days so I’ll have a chance to stay overnight at the top of the mountain. I’m looking forward to that. It’s the quietest place I know of to sit or do walking meditation. Would be nice to go for hours without seeing anyone up there. Sometimes, like this week especially, there’ve been few tourists. Farangs (western tourists) have gone home for the most part and it’s become almost a ghost town in some areas. I like it better like this.

I don’t know if my mind state is the same as it’s been or if I’m just noticing differences more… It’s really still. It’s an effort to bring up thought for most things except those that get me emotional. I have a couple things I notice that bother me and fire up the emotional fire and those things come up quickly and though I see them for what they are – they continue unabated for a minute, five minutes or so and then finally go away. There doesn’t seem to be anything that has the power to affect me much longer than that. Nothing.

I’ve had some trials and nothing affects my mind for more than 10 minutes. Most things are gone in an instant. An example is driving as I’ve said many times before I think in my journal already. Some Thai people are clue-less and that is the reason I see the results of so many accidents each month. I’ll be during the average month I see 5 horrible accidents just after the fact. I see one happen once every two months maybe. During some months – especially rainy months I see 10-15 accidents.

Anyway, so the prospect of becoming the victim of one is high in my mind because I’m on a motorbike and most of the accidents involve a motorbike and a car, truck or dumptruck. If someone does something stupid to endanger me on the motorbike my temper flares instantly and in that moment I could whack someone on the head with a stick I’m so enraged. Thai people as a culture don’t value life very highly, not their own and not others. It’s fate, it’s karma if death or accident catches up to you. A Thai might, in all seriousness just think of it as outside his/her control. They drive as they wish, some of them, without a thought in their mind about their own driving habits affecting others. I see it on a daily basis.

So, while I don’t value my life so highly – it’s neither here nor there for me, I do value staying out of pain highly. That hasn’t gone away. I still “avoid pain and seek pleasure” like Freud postulated… Death, if it came quick and without a highly painful experience is welcome anytime. It’s not something I think about. Pain is something I think about sometimes. 🙂  But, pain as an experience has changed for me recently too. There is something about pain that is temporary now – it’s not all consuming. It’s as if I’m able to step back from it… like it’s external to me in a sense. I realized this picking up a hot pot of soup by the metal. It was extremely hot – but I didn’t react – I just continued to put it on the table where I was going. Previously maybe I’d have screamed and dropped it or thrown it on the table. It was kind of taken like, pain is – so, just continue what you were doing. In this case, it didn’t have the power to cause the mind to ripple much at all… much less react.

So, while I’m ready to beat someone senseless in the instant someone drives like a nut endangering me and immediately afterward after a few minutes it’s gone and I’m driving without thought again – nothing really stays, emotional or not. Nothing has the power to produce much thought on its own. The underlying state is stillness. Emptiness I guess you might say. I seem to be operating on just memory. Another example.

I went to the restroom. I used it. I sprayed off. In Thailand we spray the bottom of “us” with a dishwasher type spray nozzle. It really cleans one up. I then washed some plates in the back area. I walked toward the front of the apartment and as I passed the room with the towel I grabbed a towel and wiped my backside until dry. I hung the towel and went to the front to put dishes in the spot they usually are.

I realized as I was wiping my butt, that I didn’t think anything – I’m just operating straight from memory. Thought is not part of the general goings on now. I respond according to what memory tells me I usually do.

As I write this there is very little thought going on. I am writing straight from memory. I’m not actively thinking, playing with ways to say something, or trying to come across in a certain way, style, or with a certain effectiveness… I’m just putting down digitally what is in my memory – almost without thought at all. When I stop typing – there is no thought. I’m aware of other things going on when these fingers stop typing something – cars passing, saws running for construction in the back… birds chirping, the fan going… but there’s no thought about any of it.

Sometimes I put music on – my favorite group of all time must be “The English Beat”. They have a complicated music full of beats and changes to the beat. It’s really fun music that I never tire of – even after 20 years of listening to their same 50 songs. In the past after I’ve listened to great music, it stays in my head. I mind hum it, sing it or find it playing in my head on auto-pilot for hours… maybe at night when I’m sleeping – It is replaying over and over in my mind.

Now? Nothing. When the music stops, it stops. Nothing carrying over – no thought continuing it… it’s just done.

It’s a fascinating state to be in – and yet, while in it – it’s nothing. It’s not fascinating, scary, weird, or fun.

It just is as it is.

I realize though if I were looking at someone else functioning like this – and I was my normal thought-filled self that I would find it very strange that someone was operating like that. I’d wonder if they were OK. If the person was normal…

Here, now, as it is – I don’t ask myself those questions – it just is. Nothing to judge about it. Nothing to compare to except when my memory realizes in a split second that “usually” I have thought running through my mind – pointless thoughts, my voice asking me questions, comparing things – finding the best way to go about something… planning some future event… dissecting some conversation…

When I talk to the monks at the top of the mountain – the most conversation I get all day – sometimes an hour or more… and I stop, they go back down the stairs or need to pray or collect donations from the donation boxes… I’ll go to sit and sometimes I realize – my memory tells me – usually, in the past – this was impossible. Your mind would be ruminating over dozens – hundreds of parts of the conversation to see what you could have said better. Asking yourself, What did he mean by this…? by that?

But the mind is perfectly still now – none of that. I can have the most engaging conversation with someone  – a monk or someone from Poland, Czech Republic or wherever… and go sit with a blank mind 3 minutes later and not have to calm the mind – it’s calm like a cup of mercury. Nothing much can make it vibrate to produce thought…

I remember that this is strange. But right now – as I experience it – not strange at all. Just is. It’s fine. It’s normal. ‘Tamada’ Thais’ say. Normal operating procedure… or, ‘usually’.

There is still some thought… it can come up. I can force it up. I can question in my head – or ask questions of myself and answer them. But, the impetus to ask them doesn’t arise often at all. I think the most common impetus or invitation to start thought comes from asking myself – now what?

Once I’ve chosen something to do whether it’s shower, write a journal entry, clean the motorbike, go to the store, get some exercise, or something else… thought will probably be absent during that activity… and then the question might come up – what next? Or maybe, I just operate on memory from there – If I go to exercise then memory tells me after I exercise I shower… so I might return to the apt. to shower. I might then feel hungry. I’ll go to eat. I might need to pick up my friend after work – I’ll go do that. Then, I can just follow what she ‘needs’ to do… I don’t need to ask myself anymore. I’m following her plan – and that’s just as good as any plan.

So – this is what I’m experiencing lately…

Just now I looked around the room to see if memory was jogged for anything I should do today. I saw the VCD’s – movies on cd-rom that we rented from the store I need to return today. I don’t have any cash so I’ll withdraw 500 thb to use for food, gas, and oil change for the motorbike…

So, I’ll do those things. I will also outline some chapters of a book I’m writing at some point today. My friend comes home late tonight – 9:30 pm so I’ll go to the temple from 4 until 9:00 perhaps, bringing some rambutan to snack on while I’m there. Maybe I’ll write the book on the mountain when it’s quiet. Probably will feel the state of mind that is conducive to sitting … maybe not sit – just stand open-eyed and experience things in the field of view without naming them… without thinking about them – just looking and seeing…

I’ve just produced a lot of thought to guide me during the day… It doesn’t hurt to produce thought now – it is difficult though. Usually thought just pops up as a result of things that are bothering us, things we notice, things we question, things we like or dislike, things that we feel a need to do…

Without any of that – how to produce thought? That’s what I mean – strange – it’s hard to get it to come…

Ok then – bye for now… Maybe more photos coming. I remembered I haven’t shown any for a while here, though I’ve taken some.

sawatdee krup

Update 27 Feb 2019

I just found this ‘draft’ in my wordpress dashboard. I found a lot of them. This is the first day of the flat-mind experience I think. I mean, there had been minutes and hours of it at times before, but this is when it became permanent. Unfortunately, I didn’t copy over the exact date of it happening to this new draft. These posts were published on one of my other websites previously. I’ll have to see if I have the info somewhere else. This was sometime in 2008 or 2009. Probably 2009.

It’s funny because for the last few years I’ve asked myself a few times – what happened to bring this on, and I couldn’t think of anything. I had completely forgotten about this series of days I called “Intensive Meditation.” you can read all that I wrote during that time here.

I just asked my wife if she remembers that time, and she does. She said I was in a different state of mind with all the meditating. Funny… I haven’t remembered for years, but now that I read these posts I wrote back then, it comes back to me.

So, yeah, there was some preliminary ‘event’ that brought on this process. Or, the process was coming on anyway, and it compelled me to meditate often over this time period.

***

The following are descriptions from photos I posted that I must have lost. 😛

A baby gecko just minutes old after hatching from egg.
It could already run and climb walls. HOW did it know how?

Buddha at top of Tum Sua mountain.

Some sharp clouds the other day.

A Ganesh – Indians hold this symbol in high esteem…
so do Thai Buddhists (Theravada)

Lotus ready to bloom…

A meditation spot I use that’s hidden
(top layer of brick has a flat spot).
It’s cool and shady before 4 pm.

A dog at the top of the mountain.
He jumps all over me until I give him his box of milk.
He devours it.

Nou has been cooking at home on the weekends
now since she has 2 days off a week.
This new job is good for her. For us.

Group of statues at the base of a Boddhi tree.

Tum Sua from the top looking down. The chedi is still under
construction. Maybe another 6 months?

Not sure you can see the chedi and Buddha at the top of the mountain.
It’s 270m vertical – about 810 feet. It seems much higher as you walk it
in Thailand’s heat and humidity. Bring water for the trip up. There’s
usually cold water at the top for free.

 

Day 3 – Intensive Meditation Practice

May 2009 Intensive Meditation | Day 3

Today went well. I had a lot of things to do today but I still found time to meditate (sitting) for about an hour in one of my favorite spots at a temple nearby. This temple has some meditation spots above the tree line after a short climb. It’s peaceful and, though it’s usually warm – it was perfect because it was drizzling rain all day.

I sat in mindfulness of the moment. Little thought intervened. It was a very nice session with some back pain – but overall much less than I’ve had recently. I think my efforts to maintain a straight posture while standing, sitting, and riding the motorbike are starting to help. Who knows? 🙂

I noticed that there is quite a bit of the feeling in my mind – or, rather, thoughts in my mind revolving around the “what are you doing this for” type subject.

I don’t answer – I just watch the questions. Do I know WHY I’ve restarted meditation? Yes, in a way. I’ve restarted to stop all reactions and negativity that exists as long as the ego exists. I’ve started again so the ego that’s left will be changed and leave once and for all. I’ve built the ego up to be very strong again after stopping meditating so many years ago. It’s a shell of what it was, and yet it’s still there and still causing hurt to some that I love. I see the reaction the instant it happens and I know it’s wrong – sometimes I can say – wow, that was wrong, and apologize profusely. Sometimes it takes a few seconds. Few minutes. Sometimes a half hour.

It’s that I need to stop. It’s such a silly thing to let run about unchecked. No sense in it anymore. I’ve seen the ego go almost completely before – and then built it back up. This time after it goes – it won’t be welcome to return!

🙂

So, that’s the why – but other than that – no real reason, guess that’s reason enough!

Day 7 – Intensive Meditation Practice

After yesterday I didn’t know what to expect today. Today was just a regular day, but there was no stress about anything all day. Like yesterday, but no numbness. No feeling that I was already in a meditative state, just a balanced feeling… relaxed, no stress and an easy day.

Even when my backpack fell onto the street from my motorbike, I had no stress about it. It was raining and I’d left my backpack on the motorcycle while I went in and talked to a friend at her business. As we were talking she noticed the pack had fallen onto the street, close to the curb. It had rained before – and yet I didn’t see any streams of rain… Sadly the streaming water was  hidden by the curb – out of my view!

I had put a waterproof bag on top of my backpack – and it’s quite a good rain-cover. It has an elastic drawstring that enables me to make it really tight – so the pack is almost completely surrounded with it.

But not quite.

I looked at the pack and said, oh, “mai pen rai” in Thai – meaning, never mind – no worries, it’s fine. And I kept on talking to her… Well, after 20 minutes when I was leaving as I came up to the motorcycle I saw that my pack was sitting in a stream of water close to the curb. The pack had blocked the water so it built up and poured into the backpack!

Hmm. Still – no stress in my mind at all. I knew my notebook computer was wrapped in another waterproof diving bag – that has a slight hole in it – but, usually is ok. My camera – I thought, was ruined – but it was only $133 over 2 years ago and I had dropped it off the motorcycle at 35 mph before – it wasn’t doing well anyway. Then I thought about – phone. Jeez. That was another $166 and wasn’t working so well either… At the worst – the camera and phone were soaked through. Maybe the phone would work after drying out. The camera – was likely lost. I had no important documents in the bag – so – there wasn’t that much to worry about.

As I picked up the pack – it was VERY heavy. Darn. The water soaked through and pooled in the bottom. I drained it as best I could. Checked the laptop – it was fine. I didn’t even look at phone and camera – no matter I thought. I checked it later when I found a place to eat. They were both wet. I removed the batteries and dried them off as best I could.

I ate in mindfulness of the great food.

I wasn’t attached to the things that might have been ruined by the rain water. It was a really nice feeling to not really care what had become of the things. Not that I can afford to buy a new phone or a new camera – I’d have just done without if they were ruined. But, it just didn’t matter in the big picture.

End Result: Phone display is pretty garbled – but it’s functional. Camera works fine. Notebook – fine. The only thing that was really ruined beyond fixing was this paper on which I wrote something I was considering focusing on during periods of calm… and during meditation after coming out of Jhana…

What did it say before?
impermanence         Anicca
suffering                  dukkha
not self                     anatta

I’m not sure what line 4 says – except “mind” (citta) and “Mental objects” are clear enough to read.
Is that great or what? It’s as if it’s reflecting reality…

Impermanence – yeah, the paper is impermanent. What I thought might be important, these phrases, are not important at all.

Suffering – there would have been suffering if I cared about this paper and what it said, what it stood for. The Buddhists think this is so important – to focus on these things during a focused, concentrated mind…

Not self – I wasn’t upset or even phased by anything getting wet in the bag – “I” wasn’t really there in a big way… not self, no self…

Strange but this is the only thing in the whole back that was ruined. The other thing that had the most water was a Buddhist amulet give to me by the abbot of a temple here after we gave a donation in a friend’s name. A friend we met online as a result of this site sent us money to donate for him because he couldn’t make it here. We did it and the abbot gave us this nice gold amulet for him. I kept it in the bag because I didn’t want it stolen from the room and need to replace it. When I found that amulet at the bottom of my bag it was full of water! The amulet was in perfect shape – as it’s all metal – but, it was full of clear water… Better take a photo of that too so you get the idea…


It’s surrounded by a plastic or glass cover – so, when the water came in, it stayed. It was like looking at the monk (Ajarn Jumnien) in a fishbowl.

Well, the water emptied – and the amulet appears fine.

It’s funny to me that these are the two things – out of 100 in my backpack that got the most water.
Anyway, it rained the entire day and all night last night. Maybe will get to do some exercise if it stays a little bit dry.

Sawasdee krup…

Body Dying Dream

This occurred in about 1997.

I wake up from sleeping (in my dream). I go into the living room area in our apartment at Horizon Place Apartments in Tampa.

The blue table isn’t there. The sliding glass doors are open. It seems to have been storming outside – there is a lot of strong wind, the sky is lighting up as if thousands of lightning flashes were occurring in different parts of the sky –but I see no lightning bolts, just the light that would come from them. I’m kneeling on the floor facing the window. The dog isn’t there. I don’t know why I couldn’t sleep and came in there. I have a fever and I’m sweating, I’m really dizzy from seeing the light pattern. I realize that I’m going to die from this infection that is causing the fever.

As I sat there looking out the window I leaned back until I was laying down on my back. I felt the strangest thing…starting from my fingertips I felt all the life (or energy) start to move towards the center of my body. As it did so, I could feel the energy increasing towards the center of my chest around my heart. Not only could I feel it, but I could also see it! It was bright orange like flames, but in the form of a gas burning with no direction to it (just a mass of energy with no real form, except to say that it was rounded at the edges, not sharp). It was like a mass of energy getting larger and larger as it came from the extremities of my body (though I felt nothing in my legs). As the energy did this I realized I was in the process of dying. My fingers and arms felt the energy drain out of them completely and became the most relaxed I’ve ever experienced it was an indescribable feeling.

As soon as the energy all reached the center of my body it started to raise up out of my body and my point of view was rising as well. I was looking at my body on the floor from out of the energy. I realized that I was using my soul to see because I had no eyes, they had died with the rest of the body. My energy was being pulled upward, and the strength of the pull got harder and increased exponentially. Pretty soon, I thought, I’d have no way to stop it!!!! This really hit home that I was going to die, and I panicked and screamed no, I want to be with Fern, please God, don’t let her be lonely like this! Not Yet! The more I pleaded, the more the energy sank back down into my body, and the more I felt the feeling come back into my body.

When the energy did all come back into my body (and my point of view changed so that now my soul and energy were inside my body) I jumped off the floor, crying and yelling for Fern (who had no idea what happened). I held onto her leg and tried to explain what had happened, but I fell asleep. Then I woke up (for real) and wondered if I had told her or not. I layed there debating whether or not to tell her and waking her up to tell her. Then I just slowly drifted back into consciousness that everything that just happened was a dream.

This dream was extremely realistic, as realistic as if I was awake…

Divine Eye Abhinna – Experiences | Anybody Have? Yes.

Something struck me the other week, and I forgot about it for a while. I just had the same experience though – so I’ll write it down. It’s gnawing at me a bit…

I wrote about and did videos about, some of my experiences with Abhinna. I even started Abhinna.org because I couldn’t believe that so few people were talking about it. I have a couple guesses as to why that might be, which I’ll touch on shortly in this article.

Where are Other People Experiencing Abhinna?

I was searching Google again today, hoping to find other people with experiences of the divine eye, divine ear, or the other abhinnas. I have yet to find anyone else’s personal account of the experiences they had with it. That’s a wee bit bothering to me. It reminds me of the time I searched for years to find someone that could tell me what the experiences I had during meditation were… turns out that some were Jhana – written about in the Buddhist scriptures hundreds of years ago. Many people knew about jhana. Few wrote anything about having directly experienced them.

I’ve still yet to meet anyone that has had even 1st jhana… Of course, there have been many people that have – I just have yet to meet them, so, that’s not on my mind much.

However, when searching the internet, where Google has billions upon billions of pages indexed – and not being able to find something there about someone’s personal abhinna experience – it’s quite odd. I’ll try other keywords later today, and see if that helps. I think that might be part of the problem. Still, there should be something in English… there should be English speaking people that put something up online about it somewhere – right? Seems so. I searched Youtube too – nothing there.

Perhaps people are talking about it in different terms. I saw a few videos on the 3rd Eye Chakra that might be similar. I don’t know much about those beliefs though. I will have a look later. Seems like Buddhism has enough followers and the texts are known well enough for someone to realize abhinna when they have it – and be able to write about it or shoot a quick video about the experience.

So part of it might be that I’m just searching in a way that won’t show me people that have had abhinna. That would be a positive answer to the question.

Is Anyone Else Having Abhinna?

The answer I fear is that people are not having abhinna and are not writing or talking about their experiences because there just aren’t any of these experiences happening for them. That’s scary. It’s scary because, the experiences I had that seem to fit abhinna – and that I detailed in the videos at Abhinna.org, would make me unique… or nearly unique. I don’t have any desire to BE that unique. I don’t want to know that I’m the only, or one of only very few people in the world that are having these experiences.

You know what they did to witches in Salem in the USA?

Ha!

Not that someone will burn me at the stake, but still – there aren’t going to be masses of people that understand. Not at all. Maybe very few at all that would understand.

How’s that for a life experience… something you had occur has happened for nobody else, or only a handful of people… and they’re all dead hundreds of years ago? That’s plain scary. Sounds like a strange movie… or the beginning of a cult.

Worry not, family and friends, I have no intention of starting a cult, religion, or group. I tend toward the other side – introversion, and though I’d like to share my experiences so maybe I can connect with others of the same sort.

So it’s scary, or weird, or odd. Not that I sit here scared… but I sit here… uncomfortable. I guess that’s the best word. I sit here knowing that these experiences that appear to be outside a dimension that is usually known by humans – are absolutely real. They are attainable. At least they come… I’m not saying that one can go get them. One can make the mind prepared for them to come if they’re going to – I guess it is better to say.

I don’t worry about why they came to me… the why, I’m sure is inconsequential. It’s basically because I sat and meditated in a way that calmed the mind and stopped it for long periods of time. It’s basically because I did a simple exercise, that opened up this new channel of experience – encompassing jhana, abinna, and other strange things not normally experienced. I don’t have any doubt that millions of people can do the same thing. I do know that millions are not… and that’s a bit disturbing.

It’s disturbing because here is this amazing experience that so few are experiencing. I wonder what the world would be like if there were millions of people… a billion… experiencing abhinna. What would the world look like?

I have been watching this ultra-runner’s videos at youtube quite a bit lately… his name is Michael Arnstein. He talks about ultra-running as a religious experience. He talks about it as his religion. He talks about things the mind goes through during a long 50, 100-mile race that are ultra-fulfilling. He talks about long runs as the ultimate experience he has ever known on earth.

The difference between his experience and mine is that mine is infinitely more easily attainable. So I think. So I have no reason not to think. How many people are going to run 50+ miles in their lifetimes? Nobody I know. Nobody I’ll ever know maybe.

How many have the ability, the patience, the drive, to sit down and watch the breath for 20 minutes per day for a few months, years, or decades? A whole lot more.

So, while sitting in meditation and focusing on the breath is a bit like ultra-running because it requires discipline and drive, and probably consistency… it is within most people’s or many people’s grasp. It is not a superhuman feat. It is not a feat that requires extreme intelligence or extreme anything. It just takes a willingness to play the game of meditation – and win. You win when the mind slows down and then stops. This is when the experiences of jhana – and other experiences, begin to happen.

Anyway… just wanted to write something about abhinna and that I am looking for others that have experienced any of the abhinnas. If you want to see my videos about the subject, go to Abinna.org and have a look.

Please write if you have any reason to do so…

Day 2 – Intensive Practice

Meditation Journal

Today began with rain, ended with rain, and as I sit here the next morning – it’s raining. That’s the south of Thailand. It rains more here than Kauai, Hawaii which is saying a lot. At the top of one of Kauai’s mountains it rains more than 300 inches a year. It’s the wettest spot on the face of the earth!

So, apologies for no photos today – and the video I’ve cut out since it would just be the darkness of the backyard. I pulled the audio track and turned it into mp3 so you can hear the frogs croaking a chorus…

I showered in mindfulness, the cold water – which usually I have an aversion to, hit me and was accepted all at once. No aversion came up – though the memory of the aversion did come up. I didn’t feel any emotion toward the cold water – it was just experience as it hit my skin. There was no chill in the body – it just accepted the cold water without emotion. But, the thought – hey, i’m usually averse to this kind of thing did creep into consciousness. It was noted – and I went back to showering. What a great way to get over things not usually ‘liked’.

I did some internet posting – for the Day 1, Intensive Practice blog post you found yesterday. I decided I’d make a specific effort to be mindful of my posture since that must be aggravating my back condition. I try hard to sleep in a way that keeps my spine aligned – but even so, I wake up with pain from it each day lately.

At mid-day I went to one of my favorite hiking spots and walked up the road. It’s an 8km hike (almost 5 miles) and while my ankle was bit sore I thought I’d do it anyway since dull pain tends to go away as I exercise and then afterward there’s only a 50% chance it returns to make it worse. Well, today isn’t worse but I definitely still feel it.

You might get the impression I’m an old man with all these aches and pains… hahah. I’m 42 and I think in reasonably good shape! I’m 5’11” and about 163 lbs. I do some kind of exercise daily – usually a walk up one of the mountains – the stairs or the road with my heavy backpack. I seem to push it though – running up some of the stairs or on the steep inclines of the road – like yesterday. Silly me.

I parked the motorbike and started walking up the hill. I left my backpack at home with my friend and it was nice not to have anything in my hands – but soon I picked up a long stick to ward off ravenous dogs that I might come upon. Dogs are everywhere in Thailand and they don’t always like foreigners. As I walked I balanced the stick in my right hand on one finger (horizontally) and the mind was blank. I maintained that state as long as I could before some thought would come up… I then noted the thought when I realized it – and went back to nothing… Again I maintained that as long as possible – it does take some effort.

Many times thoughts started to germinate… and, once realizing a thought was starting – it stopped. Many little clipped thoughts happened during the walk. A clipped thought is something like this…

I hear my mind voice say something like… “Do you think….” and then I realize it’s going to be a thought, and it stops.

If I’m fast I can see them that quickly. Perhaps it will happen 3 times in 20 seconds and then calm down for some minutes without any thought starting. Sometimes it happens more, sometimes less. There are brief bursts of thoughts that want to come out… to be formed as a whole thought, but, when mindful of it – they stop short of becoming complete, long, drawn out thoughts that lead to full-time thought activity that could take one on a mind journey for minutes at a time before realizing it.

The sooner I recognized the thought and it stopped – the less chance it had of turning into anything at all. If I wasn’t so quick and more of the thought was formed, like, “Do you think there is anyone at the first lookout right now?”

Then – anything could happen. Maybe I keep thinking… “No, probably not – there’s not been anyone else on the whole road so far – and it is raining everywhere – probably there won’t be anyone up there. If there is you can go to the 2nd viewpoint…”

And so on. Once caught in a long thought – a conversation with yourself – it’s more difficult to notice it going on – because now the whole state of the mind has changed – it’s in mind conversation mode and being mindful of a still mind isn’t the predominant state anymore. So, it’s more difficult to realize and get back into that state. It’s not difficult – but, more difficult than if I’m able to catch the thought as it’s beginning to form in the mind.

So – the walk was 2 hours, up and down. It rained a little bit and overall the 2 hours was spent in more mindfulness than yesterday’s trip up the steps with all the tourists and visitors to the temple.

The rest of the day was peppered with brief periods of mindfulness – but maybe I need to get a simple watch that beeps every 10 minutes like I had so long ago. It’s a great mindfulness bell.

I sat for 20 minutes in the evening and found the pain in my back to be very strong. I was anxious about – thinking about the pain and didn’t find a comfortable position. The mind could remain still much of the time – but sitting just wasn’t a good idea at that time so I stopped, went outside and listened to the frogs…

Vern 😛

 

Fatness or Expansion of Body – Video 4

[Page updated: 8 March 2019]

This is the 4th video in the series of meditation experiences videos. The topic of this video is an experience that some people get after the mind stops thinking thoughts. The experience is what I’ve always called the “Fatness Feeling.” I have had this feeling since I was a small boy. It didn’t happen during meditation, I wasn’t doing any. It happened as I came out of sleep and woke up on my bed. I felt a numbness in my hands usually and it progressed all over my body – or, remained at the hands. It then turned into a growing feeling – my hands and/or whole body got rather numb and then felt like it was growing… expanding outwardly at all points.

A truly strange experience! I was very happy when I received this experience during meditation the first time. I cried later – there was a tremendous relief to find out what it was after all those years of not knowing. None of my friends ever had it. My family did not have it. Nobody I ever talked to – had it. I quickly stopped telling people about it for fear of being different.

Many More Videos Here >

Video 4 – Fatness – Expanding Body Feeling

60 Meditation Tips >

Staring Into Mirrors Meditation

I’ve mentioned this a number of times here on this site. For a couple of meditation sessions I sat staring into a mirror in my garage. It was a gigantic mirror and I could see my entire body clearly. I stared into my eyes, at my face, and at my body during the session and remarkable things happened. Patterns of a puzzle seemed to rearrange themselves – meaning – my body appeared to re-arrange itself in the mirror like a puzzle. It was fascinating to see, but there’s more.

At times my entire head disappeared. At times just my eyes, then my face… and then my entire body disappeared from my sight. It was a very weird thing to experience, but I just continued sitting to experience it.

Today, let’s see, about 17 years later we’re at now, someone studied people staring into the eyes of others and staring into mirrors. Interesting, right? Try it, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Better if the light is dim and you’re sitting close to the mirror – so you can see your eyes. Better without wind or something else irritating your eyes. Your eyes should be nearly closed – but open enough to see yourself in the mirror.

Here are the two articles about something similar:

Staring into person’s eyes – hallucinations >

Staring into a mirror > Oops, that one is behind a firewall for some research publication. If I find a good copy, I’ll post a link here.

Here’s a link to my mirror meditation post on this site:

Mirror Meditation >

Various Mediation – first time I did the mirror meditation >

Various Meditation – Outside, Walking, Mirror

Walking, Outside, Mirror Meditation – 1998

Sitting in the garage on the jacuzzi pad and towels one couldn’t get focused at all. One could not focus for even 5 breaths on the sensation in the nose. One drank hot coffee again before going in so that one suffered a bit for sure. It was hot again, and the linger of clear varnish from past stained furniture still clung to the ceiling and walls.

One’s back ached from the boxing exercise yesterday, and the golf range today. One felt bugs on the body and saw a small spider on the wrist. One then stopped because the bug zapper was going crazy like a machine gun. One thought back to Thich Nhat Hanh’s experiences in which he saw and had many close friends (and strangers) die during the Vietnam and other wars.

One thought that in the way the bugs were killed while I sat–in the same way were men killed indiscriminately, not knowing why, not part of the decision, and not even agreeing to be put into the position to take life and to give their own. One thought that ‘barbarism begins at home’, old Smiths’ lyrics.

The pervading tone of killing the bugs at home because they are in the way or a bother is not much different in essence from political/religious leaders sending troops to kill men, women and children who are in the way and a bother to the goals of this certain group.

Though a fly/mosquito/spider has not all that man has–why should we take their lives for our own convenience? There are many more of them than there are of us! They live for a much shorter time and so life is of even greater importance to them because of its brevity. They are innocently led to slaughter by the bug light that kills indiscriminately not only those who have bitten and offended this body, but also those that were just in the area and were attracted naturally to the ultraviolet light.

Anyways, one got up to look at the bugs that had fried and one saw a junebug that had caused the machine gun noise. An innocent victim that would not have bitten.

While one was standing up one thought to do walking meditation in the garage because the mosquitoes wouldn’t land on one if one moved. One started walking 10 short slow steps from one end of the garage to the other. One concentrated on breathing sensations at the tip of the nose. One found that as one did so, the attention did not fall far from the breath.

Occasionally the attention was grabbed by some object on the floor of the garage or by some feeling in the feet that changed (walking over the extension cord), but for the most part a very concentrated state developed in which one became very calm and fairly concentrated. One did this for perhaps 10-15 minutes back and forth. One began to get a bit dizzy from walking in this almost circular pattern and so sat back down on the jacuzzi cover to continue sitting meditation.

One found concentration to come quickly and almost immediately. One then found that the left side of the nose at the base was extremely itchy! One had never been bothered so much by an itch before! One’s instant reaction was to scratch it, but instead, one opened the eyes and looked in the mirror to see if a bug had alighted upon the nose. No bug was seen and so one went about ignoring it.

This had no effect, as the sensation was extremely strong–as far as itching goes. One examined the sensation and found it to be a ticklish feeling and a very strong urging to do something about it. One thought that never before had such a strong urging been ignored by the mind!! One continued to sit with eyes closed and went with the itch instead of resist or ignore it.

One thought to ones self about how some Buddhist texts said that there is no state of being that is more attractive to be in than any other. One tried to come up with how that could be possible. One compared the current state of torture with a state in which there was no sensation or perception and tried to imagine which was better. One could not come up with an answer. This was one of the (first) few attempts to ignore sensations like itching, or pain while meditating, it should get better as one builds up the strength (or lets it go) to endure it. Even now as one writes this the itch is screaming for attention though one will not give it a reaction it so craves. (funny enough, just 25 minutes into this sitting session this one reacted completely on an unconscious level and scratched it one time that it was perceived by the mind without awareness!)

Mirror Meditation?

One began a different type of meditation today. One looked into the mirror directly in front of the self and stared into the face of the one looking back. One found that the experience provoked some different experiences. One saw the face change and distort some. One saw the face become as a slide image would look if projected over top of a picture of this body and head without a face. The sides of the face were blurred as if the face itself could be removed and put onto anyone else’s body and head.

The face appeared different in nature than the body. The face appeared as a dreamy, film-like quality–while the body appeared just a solid physical mass that was unchanged and generic (not special). As one continued to stare one had thoughts that one didn’t truly know which one was staring at which. One felt the itchiness in the nose and wondered if it was his or this ones.

One kept expecting the one looking back to do something unexpected or on his own. As this went on one could see that the body was absolutely still. One could not remember a time when one was so still and not moving to do something for such a long period (10-15 minutes). One felt nothing of the body, nor heard any of the environment–one just watched without judgment or conditioning.

This meditation will be done again at some point.

Mirror Meditation – Looking at Self as Meditating

Meditating on the spa in the garage today in the morning 7:30. There was an instant calmness and emptiness that existed. The mind was not much troubled by anything, nor was it following anything that the eyes saw. It was a nice 20 minutes. As one sat and looked at the body reflected in the mirror the body became a black and white negative image of itself only reflecting back black and white features of the face and body. At times the face and body appeared to fade in and out of visibility. At one point very nearly vanishing altogether. At another time as the eyes focused on the reflection of the garage light on the nose (a very small dot on the tip of the nose), one saw that the features of the face were a bit disjointed. One remembers thinking that everything we see is just a perspective of the world as it is. It is just a fractal vision of the complete surroundings that envelope us everyday. 3D, 2D, are all partial views of this world. There is no seeing through these eyes as things truly are from a world perspective.

Note – this is a fascinating experience that I hope some of you get to try. Not many of you will have mirrors right in front of you as you sit to meditate, but it is worth buying one to try it. It’s rather dumbfounding to sit and watch your head and body disappear. It’s a great exercise for ‘letting go’ of fear and anxiety because if you can sit there and watch your head disappear, and not be fearful – it’s quite something…

Meditation Questions: What to Do With Tongue When Meditating?

Monkey tongue sticking out.I was sitting here for a few minutes… I’ve been getting the feeling to sit in silent meditation for a little while now. I’ve been doing it off and on, and being mindful sometimes throughout the day.

As I sat here an hour ago or so, I realized that usually I don’t tell new meditators who read my books – What to do with the tongue during meditation?

I hadn’t really thought about that question before now – but, now that it presented itself – I’ll see what I can say about it.

The tongue, during meditation, seems to stick at the roof of my mouth. I guess that’s the natural resting place of it. If your tongue naturally rests some other way – I think better to go with the way your tongue is naturally relaxed and doesn’t cause you to think about it.

I realized that the tip of my tongue is resting where the two big front teeth join. My tongue actually seems to be slightly between my upper and lower teeth. I’m not biting it – it isn’t that far between, but only a couple of millimeters. Now, do all tongues rest like this? I couldn’t tell you whether that is true, but mine seems to. Other times I try – my teeth are closed and the tongue just rests on the back of the front teeth where they meet, but more of the tongue is against the top front teeth.

So, no idea what your tongue is doing during meditation, but if it’s as relaxed as possible, that’s best. It doesn’t matter too much, but your mouth (lips) should probably be closed. Ideally you’re breathing through your nose easily and without effort to hold your mouth together.

Make sure your jaw is totally relaxed too.

That’s about it. Don’t copy my tongue-position if the one you have is working for you. I just thought I’d comment on the topic since I don’t think I have done so in years.

🙂

Vern

“Meditation for Beginners – a 22 Day Course” my little ebook, gives you the basics on meditation… You can find it here.

[Photo credit – masashi mochida at Flickr.com]

Meditation at Suan Mokkh Temple and Thoughts on Reality

Two Theravada Buddhist monks walking to breakfast at Suan Mokkh Buddhist temple (The Garden of Liberation) in Chaiya, Thailand.
Two monks walking to breakfast down a dirt path at Suan Mokkh Buddhist Temple in Chaiya province, Southern Thailand.

What is Suan Mokkh Temple Like for Meditation on Your Own?

I wandered around Suan Mokkh again today. My family was shopping at the Central World mall in Surat Thani, and I felt like driving up to Chaiya. I had my camera gear with me, so it was a good day to go. Sometimes I go just to do walking meditation. Sometimes I go to Suan Mokkh to explore it and see what has changed on the grounds. Other times I go mainly to see about shooting some photos and video. Today was mostly about photos, but I did get a few videos too.

I get a very good feeling when walking around here. The first time I visited was in 2005. I had spoken on the phone with a monk that stayed there for 13 years, and then when the abbot died he returned to the USA and was a monk for another four years before finally disrobing. I’m speaking of Santikaro.

As I walk the paths and hear the roosters and hens, the amazing bird calls, I feel like I’m home. This happens in two other temples as well – both in the Isaan region (northeast) – Wat Pah Nanachat, and Wat Nong Pah Pong. These are both Ajahn Chah temples. Wat Pah Nanachat is filled with foreigners and has a foreign monk as abbot. I think it’s Ajahn Kevali at the moment.

Wat Nong Pah Pong has a Thai abbot, though I don’t know who is performing those duties today.

Suan Mokkh Grounds

All three temples were created around the forest tradition. There are many trees and much of the grounds are left as they naturally would be. Maybe because Suan Mokkh caters to Thais only, it has a more traditional feel. There aren’t any overdone meditation halls. There aren’t any fantastically modern buildings like Wat Pah has. Wat Pah has a fake aspect about it that I don’t like as much. Wat Nong and Suan Mokkh are less gaudy, less well manicured, maybe have less paved paths, less went into creating amazing looking structures. I don’t know, it’s a feeling. That said, I still love to visit all three of the places.

I arrived before 7 a.m. I advise you too as well if you’re planning a visit. The light is beautiful up until around 9 a.m. The mosquitoes during the dry season that we’re still in, were not so out of control. I walked around and shot some video and photos and then went back outside the gate to get some pad cee-yu, it’s a thick noodle dish with moo (pork) and the noodles are sweet and peppery. I added some prik nam pla and it was quite filling at 10 a.m.

Men's dormitory - second floor - shows sleeping arrangements at Buddhist temple, Wat Suan Mokkh, in Southern Thailand's province of Chaiya.
The second floor of men’s dormitory where you can stay for as long as you want. I’ve known people to stay almost a year here. There is no formal meditation practice or schedule, you just meditate, study, practice, on your own. Good for self-guided people.

I walked back inside the Wat Suan Mokkh temple grounds and found myself at the building where the being is handing out eyeballs. This is painted on the wall outside. Inside are some great paintings, I’ll add some to this post. I have taken photos of 95% of the paintings inside. I need to create a website of that.

A spirit is giving eyeballs out to followers on the wall of a painted building at Chaiya's Suan Mokkh Buddhist temple in Southern Thailand.
Eyeball Building full of Buddhist art at Suan Mokkh
Art room painting at Suan Mokkh Buddhist temple in Chaiya, Thailand by Emanuel Shermann.
One of the paintings by Emanuel Shermann at the Eyeball Building on grounds of Suan Mokkh temple.

Suan Mokkh Library (Meditation, Buddhist texts)

After that I walked outside, the sun was blazing. It was around noon and it is usually at this time that I am close to the little library in the bottom of the large boat building. I was happy to see it was open, so I removed my shoes and stepped inside. It was the neatest I had ever seen it. That was a surprise. See image.

I love to look through the books and pamphlets that are stored here. There are some amazingly obscure pieces that are fun to look through. Today I found something exceptional by a monk that is part of a group of temples in Surat, Nakhon, and Chaiya. I didn’t take down the name or take photos of the pamphlet. It was a Thai monk apparently, but this pamphlet was in perfect English. It was very well edited – perfect really.

The monk was talking about samatha and vipassana. Vipassana as insight and samatha as jhana and other states of concentration. I enjoyed reading it as I sat on the concrete bench which supported my lower back. As I sat in meditation position holding the pamphlet, it was a lot like meditation.

The eyes closed and the flat mind came instantly and without fanfare. There were very few sounds this day. Odd because in Thailand at a busy temple there are always sounds going on – people doing something, dogs barking. There were some roosters and hens, some birds. It was nice just sitting. Before I knew it I’d sat 40 minutes. I opened my eyes and read some more, contemplating asking the Buddhist nun at the desk if I could take it with me and return it in three weeks when I come back. I decided I’d just find it again on the next trip back.

Colorful rooster at Suan Mokkh Buddhist temple in Southern Thailand in the province of Chaiya, in the South of Thailand.
Chickens and roosters cover the grounds at Suan Mokkh Temple.

Endless Churning of the Mind

As I walked around the temple grounds then I noticed something about the big camera I was holding – it’s a big one – a large DSLR and big lens. The contraption weighs nearly five pounds. I thought it was silly how humans must use this very complex machine worth thousands of dollars to just capture a tiny moment in time that isn’t really captured well at all.

Does a picture speak a thousand words? I don’t know. I think if I spoke 1,000 words it would mean more than any image I took. I prefer to create things in my mind about what I hear… with a photo, it’s kind of there for you to embellish on. Doesn’t work so well. I love to read books where my imagination can really build it all up in my mind too. Maybe you’re like that?

This poster of Buddhadasa Bhikku, a Buddhist monk and abbot, is on the top floor of the art building at Suan Mokkh Temple in Southern Thailand's province of Chaiya.

I thought about what is actually created in the heavy machine. It’s something that weighs nothing. It’s zeros and ones, bytes and bits. There isn’t anything tangible to what the camera creates. That’s funny. We spend so much on this very tangible machine that can create something intangible for us to view on the computer or another screen.

Then I thought about what we do when we’re not shooting photos. Our mind, this brilliant (?) machine in our heads remembers details about scenes we think are important. I still remember when the mother of my son drove off with him for the last time. I still remember when my first wife left in a cab in New York City and was waving out the back window with so much urgency. Little did I know that I’d never see her again… But apparently, she knew.

Our minds are constantly, unendingly creating these intangible images of places and people, memories of sounds, the feeling we had when we were with someone that meant a lot to us. The mind is not so good at what it does, but it’s all we have. So, we take what we can get. Some of the memories in our heads are terribly important to us. Some we would kill for. Meaning, if someone said they were going to take the memories out of your head of your child as he or she, or they grew up, you might be so enraged you would kill to keep them. Funny that, right? As incomplete, as intangible, as outright wrong as many of our memories are – we might kill for them they mean so much. Some of our memories mean the world to us – don’t they?

And that’s all part of the problem.

We hold onto memories, to feelings, to ‘facts’ in our heads. We hold onto beliefs. We like to believe in something good. We like to know that we are aware of what is bad. We use intangibles floating around in our grey matter to make the major decisions of our lives.

Concrete relief art on outside of a building at Suan Mokkh temple in Chaiya, Thailand.
On the outside of the Eyeball Building at Suan Mokkh.

So I thought about that as I walked. It was a nice walk… and yet I realized again there wasn’t any of the amazing feelings about the place based on what I was seeing. The many green hues on trees and plant of every sort, were not anything special. The eyes looked at them, the mind was there with them, and yet there wasn’t any grasping to hold onto a scene as it was passed through.

If I think back now at what was amazing about the day, there really was no amazing except spontaneously meditating there on the bench in the library. It’s really probably the most ideal place on the entire temple grounds. There is even a fan there beside you as you sit, in case it becomes too hot. It does get quite hot in summer! We’re almost there, another month and the temperatures will start hitting 38-40C, and higher. That’s over 100F, and extremely humid.

As I try to think if anything else stands out, I can’t pinpoint anything. I remember the rooster that jumped up onto a branch, and then a higher branch as I reached for my camera.

I remember a dog barking as I got near one of the remote meditation halls. That dog is usually there for some reason. The foreign monk from Poland that stayed there previously has gone to Koh Phangan, but this dog is still here for the next owner of the kuti (kootee, hut) nearby.

I remember monks chanting before they ate their breakfast.

I remember the monk from Nakhon Si Thammarat that asked if I had been a monk before. I recently shaved my head with the #1 clipper attachment, and it’s about 1/16th of an inch short. I prefer it in the heat. I prefer it most times. Hair brings with it too much.

I remember finding a jumpy little fly on the ground at my feet before I sat down in the library. It could have flown away, but instead it just jumped around there by my feet, so I took a photo.

Large painting of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming at a building located on the grounds of the famous Buddhist temple, Wat Suan Mokkh in Chaiya, Thailand.
This is a place where monks study and eat breakfast. The huge poster is the Buddhist “Wheel of Becoming.”

The nun (magee) saw me taking the photo and brought over another beetle she’d just collected in her dustpan as she swept the place. I remember looking at the image on the screen after I shot the photo and realizing how inadequate that three thousand dollar piece of electronics was to capture the simple essence and subtle colors and reflections of that little beetle.

So anyway, that was my day. Six years ago or so, I would have said this was such an amazing day. It was so peaceful, so nice to be able to walk around for six hours on my own and shoot photos, read pamphlets by monks, and sit in a quiet place with cool wind blowing through the window behind me.

Today I see it as neither good nor bad, just a way to spend time. Just a way to see a little bit how the mind works and how other people live life.

If you’re in Thailand, why not skip a day of shopping and visit Wat Suan Mokkh in Chaiya? It is south of Hua Hin… south of Bangkok… North of Surat Thani province.

Mountain Climb, Flat Mind, and a Question

Bamboo overhanging a road at Wat Nong Pah Pong Buddhist temple in Warin Chamrap, Ubon Ratchathani Province of Thailand.
One of my favorite places in the world – Wat Nong Pah Pong in Warin Chamrap, Ubon Ratchathani province, Thailand.

March 8, 2015

I haven’t written here in a while. My foot felt OK today so I climbed the steps to the top of the mountain shrine at this Buddhist temple near our home. I felt great, so I did it again. At the top the second time, I sat by myself in an out of the way spot for a while and looked out at the expanse of mountains – layer upon layer of limestone karst formation. The sun was setting and there was some radiance through the clouds.

As I sat and stared at a spot on the closest mountain  – about 300 meters away or so – I let the mind go flat. I was looking at some video I did years ago and it appears that this flat-mind state has been here for about six years or so now. Wow, that’s a long time. It doesn’t seem that long maybe because I don’t let it go flat on purpose and watch what happens. Not much anyway. I did do it today at the top though, as I stared at the mountain across and below from where I sat balanced on a couple rocks that were balanced on each other.

As usual, the mind went blank instantly. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like an instant fourth jhana. The mind is completely without thought, and yet it isn’t jhana because I can have my eyes open and look around. I can hear dogs and motorbikes, and the occasional plane fly by. The airport is very close to there. Thoughts are as silent as in fourth jhana.

As I sat staring, I felt the heart slow down, I was wearing my heart rate monitor. Sitting at home typing this I just finished uploading the data online. Usually when I stop climbing the mountain I’m at 170 beats per minute and 47 breaths per minute. It slows gradually to around 90 bpm and 20 breaths per minute. I noticed that as I sat, it went down to 68 bpm for my heart and 14 breaths.

Anyway, it was just a natural relaxation of the body and though there was no thought about it, the mind is active and watches things happen. It doesn’t say what is happening with thought or nailing it to a memory. When the dogs barked or someone dinged one of the many bells hanging at the top of the temple, the mind heard these sounds and didn’t respond at all, but memory is still working during this flatline mind state. I remember now – faintly – the various sounds and what happened next.

What happened then was I brought the mind out of flatline and I thought about something some monks had said I might do when my mind was like this. They said you might start to ask yourself who you are. What was the me, where was the “I,” etc.

I’ve sat in the flatline, or flat-mind state many times over the six years… and it’s a nice state of absolute relaxed mind and body, but honestly, I couldn’t see what good or bad it was doing other than the obvious relaxation benefits, so that’s what I use it for.

Today I thought I’d do something different. I asked myself as I stared at the mountain – what is me, where is me? Then after a few minutes I revised the question – or, it revised itself. I thought I’d go into flatline mind and then keep the idea in my head. Then I would watch what part is able to notice the sound, the sights through my eyes. I wanted to see – was there a me attached to that awareness. I wanted to find out more about that very simple awareness – or consciousness I guess maybe it is.

So I went into the empty mind and sat staring at the mountain. A bell dinged. There was an awareness of the ding – the ring that lasts for ten seconds or so… and yet there was nothing of a ‘me’ in the process. The body kept sitting and the eyes kept staring. A dog barked a few times. Awareness was right on it – and no thought was developing – and yet there was this very light awareness of a question.

Is there any me in this awareness of sound, or, what exactly is noticing the sound?

There was no answer. There was no me, no i. I forced an i to come back and asked – what was the mind like? How could I describe the mind when there was the sound?

The answer came back in the form of an image. Two images. The mind was like a mirror or a flat reflective lake that vibrated with the sounds – and yet didn’t interfere with the sound at all. The sound continued, it vibrated the mind, and yet that was it. No thought. No me at all in that.

So I played with that a bit. When sound came, I tried to see – is the mind like a mirror or a lake that is vibrated with the sound, and that’s it? Also, when I moved the eyes to see something new, what was there of  me that was knowing it or experiencing it?

I don’t know. I couldn’t see a me in that. The mind appeared to be capable of vibrating on its own – with or without a vern in there.

I wondered, is the mind just like hive mind or a universal mind? Is every mind in every person linked to the ultimate – to the one mind – and that is it?

I wondered… what is vern then? What is this personality that comes out during the day and all periods of non flatline mind states?

Seems like vern is just the mishmash of thought that the mind can put together from memory. Seems like vern reacts, and knows itself by the way others react to vern. When someone climbing the steps says, “Wow, how many times did you climb today?” I say twice. They are surprised. The vern inside is a bit surprised they are surprised because at this stage it doesn’t feel like such an amazing effort. I’ve climbed over 1,400 times before, often doing two, three or four times up and down. Still, the question and response from other people provokes the mind in this head to react in a way. To remember what was said. To respond to what was said. Over time, over a lifetime really, there starts to exist this rather tangible idea of the self.

When I am Vern and I’m looking at what Vern is – I don’t know. It doesn’t look like anything is there. There’s nothing tangible I can nail down. It’s just memory acting really. That’s it. Memory responding. It’s funny to look at that happen and think – that’s all vern is made up of.

When memory responds in a a relatively constant way about different things, in different situations, the mind starts to believe that’s how it should respond. That’s where Vern is born. The memory in the mind just knows – this is what this character named Vern does and would do – and that’s how it goes.

It’s a very odd situation, the whole thing.

So, yep, that’s about it. I sat maybe twenty-thirty minutes and looked at these things today.

It’s interesting on some level. I don’t know if it’s interesting enough to continue doing on any regular basis, but I have been going through a really nutty crisis over the last few years – well, about six years. It’s as if I don’t have any passion about anything to do with work any longer. I have many websites and books started, but I have no passion toward any of the subjects anymore. It’s like I try for a bit, a day, two days, even up to five days – and then there isn’t any passion for it at all any more. It isn’t disenchantment, it’s more like – Vern just cannot get excited about any of the topics any more.

I like few things now… I love my daughter. I like extreme exercise a lot. I like photography sometimes.

I don’t know, that’s about it.

So, maybe I should just keep looking at questions while in the flat-mind state. Maybe there is something to be gained there, because in six years I have pretty much ignored it and I’ve gone nowhere with any other passions, any work pursuit.

It’s almost like there is nothing to do except keep going along the path here… looking at the mind and trying to go deeper, further, in the process.

Not sure at all. Been not sure for years now…

😛

vern, or that collection of memories that represents itself as vern !

 

Odd Dream – Getting in Sync

I’m a bit ill at the moment and took a nap after lunch. As I was falling asleep a picture came to mind.

There was a fluttering bug of some sort attached to something else larger that was also fluttering or pulsing or vibrating.

The feeling, or the thought that came to me as I watched this strange image move in my mind was that I was vibrating too… and that if I wanted to learn about something beyond what I know now, I need to vibrate at the same frequency as what it is I’m trying to learn about.

Just a very quick scene and thought, and then I was sleeping.

Another odd experience.

Pre-Jhana Levels – Experience

I found this post on an old backup CD-ROM I have. I had posted to some meditation group about some of the odd experiences I was having while meditating. Pretty fun to read now.

********

Hi all.

I’ve lurked here for quite a while because I haven’t had much to offer.

I think I do now though…

I’ve been practicing mindfulness of breathing sporadically for the past few months. By sporadic I mean once every 2 – 30 days–pretty sporadically in other words, right? Anyway. I learned mindfulness of breathing from my fiance’s father who is from Thailand and who is Buddhist.

I’ve been reading up on much of Thich Nhat Hanh’s stuff as well as various zen books and even J. Krishnamurti’s philosophy and diary. I tell you all of this because I have yet to come across anything in my reading that is very similar to what I’ve felt when I “meditate” lately. Here it is.

About 7-8 minutes into my mindfulness of breathing meditation, I notice that the environment gets very quiet for a second or two (or who knows how long it truly is, but from my perception it is a second) and I notice that I have amazing concentration on my breath coming out and entering my nose and body. This awareness fades in and out during the rest of the meditation and can be brought back with a simple thought to pay attention to it.

After this, I notice a numb feeling in my hands and fingertips which travels up my forearms and biceps and triceps to encompass my shoulders, chest, back and lower torso and finally my legs from my thighs downward to finally my feet. When the numbness is moving down past my chest I start to feel a “fatness” starting in the center of my chest which spreads outwardly toward my arms/hands and downward to my lower torso and legs and eventually feet.

When my whole body has been numbed I no longer am aware of my body and it’s physical bounds, but I am more aware of my mind which I “feel” has moved from the head and is now encompassing my whole body – not just stuck in the head.

This “fatness” that I spoke of is the thing I’ve really not encountered through reading or through talking to others who meditate. By “fatness” I mean that my physical body, though numb, feels as if it wants to expand in all directions! I feel physically fat! It’s the weirdest feeling – I wish I could explain it better to you. At this time I feel as if my mind is extremely powerful and capable of changing the body to any shape that it chooses. I don’t actually have any “conscious” input / desires / wants while I am in this state, it’s like the mind just naturally wants to expand and stretch the limits of the body.

By far the most “odd” things is that when I am in this state I have this very strong “push” from the powerful mind that is seeking to push the body into different shapes. I told you it was different. I felt as if the mind really wanted to flatten the body out into a sort of cubic cylinder (like the shape of a 2’x2’x 5′ board.

Even stranger though, was that at one end of the shape (which I was actually becoming in my mind) I felt as if that which was my head was becoming even more elongated and stretching into a point (have you all seen Terminator 2 when the policeman’s finger turned into the liquid metal and stretched out? Sort of like that). I think that the force was trying to stretch to this point because it represented an extreme focusing of power and concentration in this point form. I don’t know how to say this well, but this force inside my body was all moving toward this concentrated point and I felt that the force was incredibly powerful as it was moving toward this shape.

During this time I can sporadically be aware of sounds in my house, like the dog snoring (very clearly) lucidly. I can just acknowledge the outside sound and then focus with extreme clarity back on the breathing and the experience going on with this force. Sound disappears again.

The last two times I meditated, this same thing has happened to me. I am afraid to let it go further because I am fearful that I will reach nirvana or something and forsake all of my present responsibilities that I now have. I want to share with someone who may have a similar experience, or who has an equally unique experience before I go further.

I know that some will doubt my authenticity because of my lack of devotion to religiously meditating and trying to attain some sort of enlightenment, but I have noticed that I have some extreme concentration capabilities that were part of me ever since I was in grade school. I remember the teacher asking once in 4th grade if everyone in the class would sit and just try to think of nothing for the next 30 seconds. We all tried and I was the only one who stated that I could do it! She then went on to ask me to try it for one minute. I did try and succeeded. I don’t think she believed me then either–but I knew it was true about me, though it meant little then.

I did not think about the concept of “nothing” or the word, or not thinking of nothing, etc. I just totally blanked my mind for this period, like I do so much now when I am trying to “think”. I have had some experience concentrating on breathing when I did triathlons in Pennsylvania and Miami for two years, though nothing formal before about last October.

I would love to hear from anyone regarding this experience, or if you have any experiences you’d like to share, I would like to hear them.

Peace…

Vern L

Does Enlightenment (Nirvana) Give You Mastery Over Emotions?

Human Skeletons Suan MokkhIf you’ve been following this sporadic blog at all you know I’ve not really put any priority on meditation any longer. I don’t meditate. I don’t focus on the empty state of the mind when I stop doing, stop thinking. Still, it can be called on in a second, and it’s there. Instead I fill my time with doing. I feel like I’m under a time limit to complete some amazing things. I’ve never felt like there was any deadline until I hit 40 something. Then it became all too real. I think it was my friend from my Air Force days, Brent Hill, dying at around 43 years of age. That was a wake-up call. It happens anytime.

So, instead of sit here in bliss, I pack as much as I can into my day and don’t give myself any time to sit and experience empty mind, blank mind, the flat-line state that is underneath my ‘doing’.

Today however…

I felt anger well up inside over something. Usually I just feel it and really pursue it – letting it play out fully. Today I did something I don’t usually do, and something that I haven’t done regularly for years. I watched it grow and I realized it was just an empty emotion. I watched it well-up, noted it, and it disappeared. I smiled just to make sure. Yep, it was completely gone.

Does enlightenment offer mastery over all our emotions?

I don’t know. I don’t think I’m enlightened. I do think I get glimpses. If I’m enlightened then I haven’t really realized the importance of the state because I’m still bumbling through life “doing” as much as possible. I’m not usually stressed out, but I do get angry and stressed sometimes. It’s part of living life. I think it’s beneficial to get angry at drivers that endanger my life. It wakes me up, that’s for sure! So, anger is beneficial in that it snaps me out of my complacent driving. I wake right up when someone almost runs me off the road.

But, this technique today deserves some more practice. Maybe practice is the wrong word. It deserves more instances of it. It blew me away that, despite it being such a long time that I haven’t meditated – there it was… complete mastery over anger. Is it always there for me, anytime I want it? I don’t know. I’d guess it probably is.

I have to say, I enjoy anger sometimes. I enjoy feeling something emotional sometimes. I enjoy feeling love and empathy for others – daily. Hourly even sometimes. My daughter gives me endless opportunity to experience unconditional love and acceptance. That’s so cool.

The empathy I have has almost become overwhelming at times. I can tear-up in an instant. Let me think, when did it last come? Ah, I got it when I saw the son of a young woman here that recently lost her husband. He committed suicide. The woman raises the son herself now. She’s working pumping gas. He was an engineer. They made decent money. The guy left her alone with her little son – 4 years old. Same age as my daughter. It rips me up when I see her or the boy. I see them often, and still the feeling comes over me instantly and nearly overwhelms me.

Compassion, empathy, these are nothing new to me. I’ve been sensitive to other people’s struggles for a long time, and to some degree. Probably a high degree. But, after meditation it just became PROFOUND.

Anyway, just felt like typing something at the site here today after the anger turned to dust experience. Quite an amazing feeling, experience. I do hope you continue to meditate and experience something like this some time. Meditation is an exceptionally simple game. You just need perseverance. You need to play to win.

Is it worth it?

I think it’s worth it…

Awakening from Gary Weber’s Perspective

I’ve been in contact with a researcher that runs MRI’s on people’s brains that are high level meditators. He suggested, after hearing about my state of mind that a guy by the name of “Gary Weber” taught from a similar background. I looked him up and while it was hard to get at what he believes and experienced, finally I found something.

If Gary is speaking about this from a first-hand perspective – he is right on target. All of this jives with my experiences and current state. It was really nice to see it put into words like this, different from my own, and yet nearly perfectly aligned with my ideas, experiences.

Apologies to Gary in advance for copy/pasting a large chunk of his free ebook! Here is Gary’s website (click).

 

What will awakening/Self-realization/enlightenment be like?

There is much confusion as to what you can expect after awakening. It is critical to remember that enlightenment is not an experience, no matter how ecstatic or sublime it might have been, nor how many you have had. If it has come and gone, it was an experience like so many others. In fact, an ecstatic spiritual experience may create such an intense longing for its regeneration, as it did in my case, that it becomes a great burden and an obstacle to true awakening.

In my case, the page turned totally unexpectedly while doing a yoga posture that had been done literally thousands of times before. I went into the posture one way, and came out of it completely transformed. There was no blinding flash of light, no choir of angels singing, no holding God’s hand. Thought as a continuing phenomenon just stopped. The “I” was blown out like a candle in the wind. That has continued for what is now many years.

There are many who have a spiritual experience and declare themselves enlightened. You have probably heard “everyone is already enlightened”, “a Buddha”, and told to “call off the search”. Unfortunately, that may not be your reality, but some- one else’s. Since you have never seen it before, it is easy to declare victory and leave the field prematurely. This leads to great confusion and the biggest loss of all, your losing the opportunity to make that wondrous mystery yours. If possible, have your enlightenment checked out by a bona fide Zen master rather than your buddies at Starbucks.

There are some useful markers that can serve as a guide. If awakening has occurred, there is no sense of anything further being needed, nor is there anything that can be taken away to improve it. Thoughts drop away as a continuing all-encompassing phenomenon in the foreground and fall to the background out of lack of interest. You move from being in a flock of birds to seeing a few birds far away in a clear sky. There is an ever present natural stillness, presence and deep quietness.

Thoughts, which are a lot like a sense, become more like taste-a useful tool employed when needed, rather than the constant hearing of a cacophony of jumbled noises. You no more force thought to stop forever than you would put out your eyes because you didn’t like what you saw. It is an easy, comfortable state.

There is a knowing of a deep “yes”; of acceptance that you are not in charge, in fact that you are not. Rather than seeing that deep stillness as an observer, you dissolve in that deep stillness. You realize that you are that and have always been. There is an unshakable certainty, a knowing of completeness, fullness and limitlessness beyond any doubt.

72 Happiness Beyond Thought

There is also the knowing that this is nothing special, nothing special at all and that no one created it or has it as an achievement. There is the wonderment that it could have been overlooked for so long as it is so clear, intimate and simple.

Daily life continues in apparent duality through a personality, or persona, like an actor in a play simultaneously with a Oneness that is there continuously, naturally, easily. It is like one of those drawings that are two different things depending on your perspective, being either a vase or two people, or an older woman or a younger one. Or one of the current graphics that reveal the hidden picture within the apparent one after you stare at it for a while. A subtle shift occurs.

You do not lose functional competency even for highly complex tasks and positions. If that is what is going to be, you can continue in a complex job with a family, a mortgage, etc. In my experience, your functional competency will increase. Your full awareness will be present rather than the typical situation of having only a fraction available because it has to fight through a wall of constant thought. You will often be the only person there who can see from an unencumbered perspective what is going on. Solutions to complex problems in business situations and relationships will arise in consciousness; solutions that are beyond anything that you could ever have developed by thinking about them endlessly.

It is clear everything is within your consciousness, and that everything is One manifesting as apparent entities. If everything is One, then you as a discrete entity must not exist. Nisargadatta Maharaj’s famous quote on this realization is “When I see that I am nothing that is wisdom. When I see that I am everything that is love. Between these two my life moves.”

There is much discussion on whether anything changes after enlightenment and if there are degrees of enlightenment. Changes in the state of consciousness after awakening occurs are described by Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj and many Zen folk including the contemporary Adyashanti. There are detailed descriptions within the Zen Buddhist tradition of various stages that occur after enlightenment.

A famous dialogue between a 20th century Zen master and his student address this issue. The student wrote “Truly I see that there are degrees of depths in enlightenment.” The master replied “Yes, but few know this significant fact.” Their discussion goes on to describe in classical Zen fashion and metaphors what those stages are. The Zen master states that “What these people (contemporary Zen teachers) fail to realize is that their enlightenment is capable of endless enlargement.” (14) These are virtually the exact words used by Adyashanti, one of the clearest and most accurate contemporary teachers on what happens after awakening.

The prospect of endless enlargement of enlightenment begs the obvious ques- tion of who is doing such a process and who decides when it’s over. If the process

is clearly occurring without a doer, it is all just happening by itself, just as it is and there is no concern. If there is someone there who believes they have become enlightened and is now doing a process to be more enlightened, there is indeed further to go. In my own experience, these processes occur perfectly just by them- selves and are different from anything that could have been predicted or imag- ined. It is all a total mystery, just as it has been all along, out of anyone’s control, although it just wasn’t realized.

Ramakrishna, the 19th Century Indian yogi, admonished students to “go further, go further”. When in doubt, “go further”. Search for your own deepest truth. At some level, you know in your deepest space if you are truly free and whether or not there is still something lacking. Be totally, brutally honest with yourself. There is no risk of “going past” enlightenment; there is a great loss in not going far enough.

There is a trap, however, in hearing all of this. The mind, anxious to grab hold of this threatening mystery, wants a model, a set of parameters and an idea of what it looks like, so that it can produce it and remain in control. It is impossible. No description is adequate because it uses the words and concepts of the mind, the source of the problem. Awakening is outside and beyond the mind. As long as there is a mind or an I trying to construct such a state with its tools, enlightenment cannot happen.

Letter to Dr. Josipovic – Re: MRI and Meditation

I had this idea today that I would get a brain MRI done here in Thailand. I’d just pay for it and not tell them what I was going to do, but my idea was to go into my brain’s default “flatline” mode and then see what the doctor’s said. Just for curiosity’s sake.

So today I Googled ‘MRI and jhanas.’ I found that Dr. Josipovic did some MRI scans of monks that were meditating. Apparently he was studying the transitions between states.

I wrote him a letter. Not expecting a response, but who knows…

* * * * *

Greetings Dr. Josipovic,

I read about some of your work where you look at MRI scans of monks who are meditating.

I have a peculiar state of mind that has lasted for the last 5 years or so now. I’ve had jhanas 1-8 and I seem to have gone beyond that, or maybe on a different track all together.

My mind appears to have stopped. Flatlined. This seems to be the resting state of my mind. I can “do” – like typing this email out to you. When I stop doing, there is nothing. There is awareness… pure awareness, but there isn’t thought. Thought has ceased, similar to when jhanas come, there is no thought, but there is jhana – those bizarre experiences that just seem to happen on their own.

This state is different. There is no experience, just awareness.

It’s as if there is no ‘watcher’. No do-er. Nobody there to judge.

In that state the body functions fine, the eyes look around, the ears hear, the lungs breathe, and yet the mind is sort of unlinked. Though the eyes may see many things, seeing something doesn’t lead to naming it and thought forming about what is being viewed. The sense objects don’t lead to anything. They don’t start thought up. The mind is at perfect rest. It doesn’t move.

It’s curious because it isn’t something I have to “do” to reach the state. It’s the default. It’s always there when I stop doing. The state comes whether I’m in a crowd of loud people, in a car, in a restaurant, wherever. I’ve gradually become familiar with it and not as bothered by it as I was at first.

I am contacting you just out of the blue like this because I had this idea to go pay for an MRI here myself in Thailand. I would go into the flat state for the duration of the MRI – and see what they told me about the result. I wouldn’t tell them I was going to do it – just an experiment.

But I thought I would ask you if you’ve ever recorded the experience before. Personally I don’t know anyone that has been in this state, and the Buddhist monks here in Thailand are also at a loss for words.

Best of life to you,

Vern​ Lovic

The Feeling of “Me”

Alan Watts, one of my favorite speakers, has said that the feeling of ourselves, the feeling of the tangible self inside is nothing more than the muscular tension about the abdomen or chest area. I wanted to share with you what I feel the tangible me to be, because I agree with Alan, and yet to me there is some more to it.

As I’ve said here before, I seem to have 2 states of being for the past few years. One state is “doing” and one is “nothingness.” When I’m doing, I can accomplish things. When I’m nothingness, there are no thoughts or feelings, nothing literally, to do or be. It’s like a flatline state of the mind. I can see, I can smell, I can touch, I can taste… but the stimuli from the senses don’t mean anything in that state. The mind isn’t engaged to make sense of them. It’s like a pure state.

I’ll look at the feeling of me from each state of mind. Here is what I feel of me in the “doing state”.

While doing, like while I’m typing this note, if I take brief moments to ask myself where the me is, I can say that the me appears to be in a few different areas. I have layers of awareness of the levels of me that are all adding up together to give me the appearance of a separate me.

As I write, the primary feeling is that the me is on the screen and making the letters appear in words, sentences, and paragraphs. When I write, there is no real perception of me that is greater than this one. It is as if my being is right there on the screen and coming out of nowhere. I don’t see a connection between me thinking up what to say and it being put on the screen, it just arrives on the screen in a nice format. Me is whatever is spilling out on the computer screen. If I choose to pull the focus away from that, I can look at the fingers with my mind, as they jump around across the keys. I type somewhere around 80 words per minute on average so my fingers are pretty active. If I look at them as they dance around, I don’t have any feeling of me in them. They just seem to be going on their own and I don’t feel like there is me inside them. They just appear to be a tool to express the me, but I don’t feel any me going into them or giving them any input so they can make words appear on the screen.

Hope this is making sense. It is very difficult to put this into words, having never done so before.

Then, if I pull the focus closer to the main part of my body, I don’t feel any real me until I get to my head. In my chest is no feeling of me. There is no discernible muscular tension as I type. As I do other things, I’ve been aware of a feeling of tension in my chest that seems like it can be identified with me, at least until I look at it intensely.

As I look into my mind and search for me, I seem to find something there. I can only describe it as a tension of the mind. Of course there are no muscles in the brain, but there is some sort of tension or pressure in the mind that feels like the center point of me. This feeling, this pressure, is there in varying amounts as I’m doing something. The feeling of me is probably strongest when I’m driving here in Thailand, with my four year old daughter in the back seat, and someone cuts off our car or does something else that is very dangerous and that could harm us. There is a tension inside the mind at that time that is palpable as it ever gets. The ego roars, and the fight or flight response is there, very strong. It may be something physical, adrenaline, that causes the feeling, I am not sure. But I don’t think there is another example I can give in which the feeling of me is so strong. So, it is there in the case of anger, fear, danger, and maybe it is the presence of adrenaline or something else being released by the pituitary gland or some other gland that causes it.

The feeling of me is flitty. I can be typing here and feel the me in the screen, and then stop for a second to think about what to write next, and the feeling of me may disappear altogether. I may find myself unable to put thoughts together to continue writing. This happens as I write books a lot. It is like the mind wants to slip back into nothingness and flatline at the first opportunity. Other times I can concentrate for hours on end to write a book and the doing doesn’t seem to cease, it just continues on as I need it to.

Likewise, after someone does something dangerous in a car around us while driving, the feeling of me can go from full on, down to nothing within seconds. It may happen this way as I realize that the car that just swerved into my lane, was avoiding crashing into a car in front of it. Or, it may be that I realize in my mind that people are fallible and that driving is a scary thing to many people. They are doing the best they can. This has been going on since meditation fifteen years ago – this quick reset back to a low emotion state, low ego state, low fear and anger state when some realization has taken place about the reality of life.

When I’m running I feel the me in the lungs and chest mostly. The legs feel like tools, an extension of me, but I don’t feel me in them. I don’t feel me in the head usually, only the chest. The upper part of the chest and the top of the neck where the air is coming in strongly through my open mouth.

We don’t have hot water in our home in Thailand. When I shower, I pull water from a large tub and splash it over me with a scooper. When I do this, the water is quite cold during January to March or April. Still, I don’t feel me as the water hits as long as I’m not ‘doing’ something with my mind that is paying attention to the water, the cold of it. If I am anticipating the cold water, it may affect me. Maybe 95% of the time I’m not thinking about it and I just walk in and start splashing it over me. I know the feeling is different, from memory of what it used to be before I had this ability to separate a me from the body.

When I have a headache or some other pain in the body I’ve noticed that for years I can disassociate myself from the pain when I look closely at it. As I study the pain, I come to the idea that the thing in pain is not ‘me’. It isn’t my self. When I look at it this way, it doesn’t have anywhere near the ability to affect my mind. My mind doesn’t feel it as much. I don’t feel it as much because I don’t feel it as me. Like the cold water splashing my arms, legs, chest and back, none of those are me and so none of them affect me.

When I am doing and I look inside the mind to figure out – where is, what is me? I usually feel some tension in the head that I call me, but then it quickly disappears as I let that go too, and return to the flatline state.

Even while doing some things, I can return to the mindless, flatline state. While typing here – I cannot. It just doesn’t work. I don’t know why, but I’ve tried it before. The mind has to be running, doing, working, in order to make this happen.

While running, I can briefly go into the flatline state. I’ll experiment next run and see how long it can last, but I think previously when I’ve experimented with it, I could go for a few minutes before the me came back into the picture.

OK, so that is something about the feeling of me when I’m “doing.”

What about when I’m in the empty, flatline state?

The feeling of me when I’m in the flatline state is absent. It just isn’t there at all. It isn’t in the hands, feet, legs, chest, head, or anywhere. It is literally like Vern is dead. Dead meaning not there at all. Like all that made up Vern, the thoughts, emotion, voice in the head, tension in the head and chest, all of that has ceased. Vern is completely gone.

It isn’t a bad feeling. It isn’t a good feeling. As I type this and think of the couple minutes I had earlier today in this flatline state, it seems to be a nice state. It is a state without worries, fear, wants, needs, emotions, expectations, responsibility, there is nothing of this sort of thing realized at all in the state. So, outside of the state I can look at it and say it’s a ‘good’ state, one that seems to have some value, at least for relaxation of the body and mind.

Is it the natural state? Is it the state the mind wants to incline toward, and yet cannot in most people? I don’t know. I can’t say at all. Is there something about it that makes it better than the doing state? I don’t know. Though it has been some years since this occurred in me, I am still kind of puzzled by the whole thing. It is a state in which nothing seems to be taking place except the body is there, surviving, doing what it does without needing a me to tell the heart to beat, the blood to pump, the hormones to be disbursed, etc.

Sometimes I wonder how long one could survive in that state. The doing state appears to be necessary for things like going to get food and going to the restroom. Though, those tasks could also be done in the flatline state. I wonder if they would just pop-up as one gets hungry enough that the body must have food, or die.

Anyway, I think I’m going on further than I intended.

The feeling of me changes depending whether I’m in the doing or the empty state. It changes depending what I am doing – sports, writing, eating, reading, etc. The feeling of me is primarily in my head – the pressure there, when it is present at all.

Have a nice January…

Metta,

Vern

 

Is 2014 the Year I Meditate Again?

vern-ngorn-nak

This past year, 2013, has been rather torturous.

I’ve never felt more lost. I don’t know what to focus on to make a living. I have many things I’m competent at, and nothing I am an expert at. I usually don’t include meditation when I think about what I could be doing with my time, with my effort, to help solidify the future for my family – my wife and daughter.

And yet, one by one, the options of what I can do are disappearing.

Over my entire life I’ve asked myself the question – “What can you do better than anyone?”

I figure that is what I should be focusing on. Why waste time with anything else. And yet still, I can’t seem to focus on the thing(s) I am very good at. The things I’m expert at.

I can do photography pretty well. I guess I’m an expert. I’m competent, I’m fully knowledgable about most topics in the field of photography. I know the technical bits, I know the design, the art of photography. I know what it takes to make great images. I very rarely am inspired to go do so. I just don’t care about it that much. Hardly at all really. There are brief moments when I’m inspired, but it passes quickly.

I can shoot video well enough to get a lot of views on Youtube. Being in Thailand helps. There are lots of strange subjects to shoot videos about. I have 18,000,000 views at my Youtube channel. I could focus on that in 2014. I get inspired in brief spurts to do so – and then it goes away, like everything else.

It is the same for everything.

Meditation has been a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, it has calmed my mind. ADD/ADHD are pretty much a thing of the past. They very rarely affect me at all anymore. I can say that after decades of it affecting me horribly, I now have peace of mind. I have my mind back. In a way that is good. I can focus on projects for hours, days, weeks at a time when I’m motivated to do so.

I’m just not motivated to complete any big project like a book, a movie script, a website focused on some topic. I find that I just don’t have the motivation to do it. There is very little I care about any longer.

What I do care about, doesn’t seem to be areas of focus that will lead to me making a living from them.

My family. I don’t know how to monetize my family.

Trail running. I love it. I do it every chance I get – couple times a week. I wish I could live in the western USA and run many of the races there. I just can’t get any sort of major income source to allow me to do that. I fear getting a job and working for someone else because I’ve spoiled myself working on my own for the last 7 years.

Who can give me a job that compares favorably with that?

Meditation. Jhana. Abhinna. I’ve already written two books on meditating. One is doing OK, the other has sold about 5 books in total. It’s funny, the book I put the most thought into, the most time into, the most that I could possibly fit into a book – is the one that sold 5 copies. It’s ludicrous, but goes to show you how publishing books works online. It either works, or it doesn’t. I have 26 books published online. I am not excited at all about publishing any more.

When I really look myself square in the face and ask – “What is the one thing you are expert at that few other people can do as well?”

The answer is meditation. The answer is – reach jhana. The answer is – experience abhinna.

At least I have in the past.

Whether past success is indicative of future success is anyone’s guess, but I just don’t care much about that topic either. It’s so nebulous. I can’t really see it clearly to define it as a meaningful topic to delve into. The experiences were phenomenal, sure. What if I were able to have abhinna experiences again? What then?

I don’t know. I don’t see any point in them. My experiences before weren’t so general that I could fascinate people with them. They were personal and involved knowledge about my family mostly. They were not that strong that I could call them up at will. They came when they wanted.

What I have left as a result of meditation years ago, is that this mind has stopped when I am not prodding it to do something. There is a profound silence when I’m not doing anything.

There is a non-attachment to nearly everything except the few things I mentioned… my family, and exercise really. I can’t think of anything else that means anything to me.

Disenchantment has hit full-on.

Anyway, so gradually it appears that disenchantment is taking away everything that could have been a possibility to focus on. If I could focus on my family or exercise, and make a living, make a career out of that, I would do it. I don’t see how that could possibly happen. So I sit here and I’m empty.

I can’t come up with anything else.

Meditation, jhana, abhinna – these could maybe be the answer. Still, I’m not motivated in the least to do anything with them. I’m not able to see a way they could provide a job focus for me. A career. Something that would give my family more stability.

And so it goes…

2014… I do hope something profound happens. I’m not expecting it to come from inside me. Seems like it has to come from outside me.

Best of luck and life to you and yours – and I hope your new year is the best of years!!!

Metta,

Vern

 

UG Krishnamurti and the Calamity Experience

Years ago I found UG Krishnamurti’s books alongside Jiddu Krishnamurti’s books at the bookstore. I started reading and was immediately fascinated. UG came to a place in his mind without Buddhism, though it was influenced by Buddhism, he basically got there without consciously playing the role of a follower of Buddha. He sort of stumbled into it.

I just found this amazing video by Ian McNay of UG that I hadn’t seen before. The sound quality is atrocious, but, with earplugs on my computer I can hear it OK.

I’ll put the video below.

My experience has been very similar to UG’s, and yet different in some ways. I understand everything he is saying when he talks about his experience and the state of his mind… I’ve been there, I am there. It’s interesting that he says “you don’t know what hit you.” When describing what happens when the questions about enlightenment hit. You have no way of knowing or explaining what it is… and yet there is a change. Then a new equilibrium settles and you go on…

I wonder if I’m in that new equilibrium settling down point now, or if I still need to spend time in the silence. I am definitely at a point where I cannot describe what is left of ‘me’ and what it means, if anything. It is not a bad state, a harmful state, an unhealthy state… but it is certainly an odd state that is neither on this side of the fence, or that. It is as if I have been teetering on the top of a very thin branch – almost going off into the unknown.

Anyway, this video was fascinating – and there are more parts to the interview I’ll have a listen at now –

Is Silence Next?

My mind isn’t ready to do anything. It’s like I’ve been broken.

I have a very hard time creating anything now. I have a very hard time finding a reason to do anything now.

There isn’t any motivation, drive, want, reason, urging, feeling, to do anything.

I’ve tried over and over to find some passion. I’m passionless except for brief bouts of exercise, and that fades away when I’m done, or doing it. The drive for that is very weak during those times, and is only briefly strong enough to get me out the door to do it – and then it fades.

It is getting tiresome to make my mind do something. Maybe that’s it. It is like I’m forcing the mind to do in order to get things done on my websites, with my little business, with life…

When I stop making the mind do – it just sits there in silence. It is completely empty. It doesn’t even enjoy the silence, it cannot enjoy anything. It’s passionless, emotionless, thoughtless, and almost mindless.

There is still something there, but what it is, I couldn’t guess. Something still sees, but there is no interpretation of what is seen. Something hears. Again, no interpretation.

Memory still functions to record these sites, sounds, smells though. Even in the mindless state, memory is working because I can recall it later – there isn’t much to recall, but I recall the sound or sight or smell, but not the experience of it – just the occurrence. I just remember it happened.

The mind obviously wants some long periods of silence. For what – who knows. There isn’t any want that I can be aware of. I just say that the mind wants silence because as it is – the forcing of it to continue to think, to do, is not satisfactory. It’s tiresome. It’s not bringing peace or resolving anything.

Will it resolve the silence and bring back a thinking mind again? Will it dissolve further and I’ll basically sit here in a puddle of my own drool because I can no longer will my mind to work at all after I let it go silent for a long time?

Questions with no answers. I just feel tired of making the mind do.

I feel like it is time for another state.

I don’t know what state that is. I don’t know what I’m moving toward or away from, but I just feel like there must be something else, another step forward or back that can be.

There might be nothing at all… maybe my mind has just broken and there is nothing more that will change about the situation. I’ll either force it to work and get things done and suffer the idea that it’s being worked too hard – or not.

It seems like it might be time for silence for a while…