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If you want to read about “Vern” – the owner of this site, read on…
Recently I did a video about my current state of progress. You can view it below on this page. In October 2019, I added this page about the state which is known by others as non-dual awareness.
These are audio files (MP3) that you can listen to by clicking those links, or by right-clicking and “save file as” or “save link as” to download it to your computer or other devices.
I meditated near daily for about a year back in 1997-1998 and have continued meditating intermittently for 24 years. I first read a book on Vipassana meditation by S.N. Goenka and found it to be filled with more than I thought was necessary. Initially, I was looking at meditation as a purely physical experience. I wanted a way to relax after days filled with stress at my job. I decided to do away with the religion aspects so entangled with meditation and then distilled the process down to just its bare-bones physical practice.
I had very few rules in mind as I sat down. I had no idea that it could lead to anything other than relaxation. I was doing it just to do it. The reward was basically just being able to sit in silence for twenty minutes a day without having to think about anything else. It was like playing a game with my mind every day. It wasn’t “fun” per se, but it was interesting because gradually my mind started to change.
There is an incredible series of changes that take place in the mind as one sits and looks at what goes on. Eventually, it stops. Thought stops. The mind stops. What happens then cannot be described… it is beyond normal experience… so different that words don’t have the ability to describe it at all. It doesn’t matter how much I write or say about the experiences that happened, I feel like I’m only just barely touching the surface. For me to give you a clear description of the experiences is impossible. The experiences don’t lend themselves to such an explanation.
I wrote a couple of books book about how I went about meditating. Basically, the books cover the process of meditation without adding any religion to it. However, when I titled the book that way, “Meditation Without Religion,” very few people read it. I retitled it, “Meditation for Beginners – a 22 Day Guide” and now it has sold more than 35,000 copies. Ahhh, marketing. 😛
I have another book, Meditation for Beginners you can see on the right-side column of this page. The second book goes deeper. Really, the first book is all you need, and the second book gives much more description and details. You honestly don’t need the second book, but most people find it very interesting because it gives more details and more of the big picture.
If you have read either one, would you let me know what you thought of it?
Disclaimer: I am not a guru of any sort. I don’t know much about Buddhist meditation, as it relates to the religion of Buddhism. I have enjoyed experiences that appear to be the same as the Buddha, and others that have followed the path of meditation – though we’ve all come to our results in a different way. I don’t know what enlightenment means. I am not looking for it, and I am not sure it exists.
I can’t tell you how to meditate beyond just following the simple steps in the books I’ve written. I think the experiences meditation brings are available to everyone – but the primary stumbling block is that meditators don’t want to do the ‘work’.
It’s work to sit there on the floor and envelop yourself in silence, watching the mind take you away from focusing on the breath at your nose. You might feel like you’re not progressing at all for weeks at a time. That is precisely when you are progressing… you are training your mind to deal with the task at hand.
Once you have a breakthrough and the mind begins slowing down the churning out of thoughts – you begin to see phenomenal changes occur.
I’ve looked for over a decade to find others who have gone into Jhana during and outside of meditation sessions. I have found very few people that have had the tenacity to stick to the basic agenda I outline in the book. But still, there are some!
Meditation is, in a way, a game to be won. You are playing against your mind. It is your mind playing your mind. When the mind stops – when you’ve let go of every distraction and focused and refocused back on your breath at the nose thousands of times, maybe tens of thousands of times… the mind slows and eventually even stops completely. It sort of flatlines.
I’d love for you to experience the silence that occurs when the mind stops and thoughts are no longer created. I can never explain it to you, but I can say that it is one of the most interesting states of consciousness I’ve ever experienced.
1995-1997 I read books on eastern religion, eastern philosophy. I read books about zen Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufiism, and the Theosophical Society. I read about Jiddu Krishnamurti, UG Krishnamurti, Thich Nhat Hanh, and many others. I was curious to find out about other belief systems and ways of approaching problems I saw in the world, and in myself.
1997 I began meditating. I meditated with my father-in-law at the time. He was a Thai Buddhist living in the USA for decades. He taught a small group meditation a couple of times a week. He showed me how he meditated. He told me about forest temples and forest retreats in Thailand. He shared with me his library of books written by some forest monks he liked. I read books about the teachings of Buddhadasa Bhikku from Suan Mokkh temple in Chaiya, Surat Thani, Thailand. I read books about Ajahn Chah in the northeast province of Ubon Ratchathani at Wat Pah Nanachat and Wat Nong Pa Pong temples (among others). I enjoyed the idea of Buddhism more than Christianity, but I didn’t want to follow any religion. Curiously, Buddhadasa has a book called “No Religion” you might be able to find online somewhere. I have a couple of copies in storage.
1997 I read a book by S.N. Goenka about Vipassana meditation. I liked how the physical process looked. It copied what the Buddha was said to have done thousands of years before. I took some time to read the entire book and take notes on the physical aspects of the practice. I wrote down a guide for myself to follow that became my meditation practice. It included sitting meditation, walking meditation, mindfulness of the present moment, and a lot of questioning. I began practicing in my bedroom for 20 minutes a day to relax from stressful days at work as a home inspector and real estate agent in Tampa, Florida.
1998 After a few months of practice (and I’m leaving out thousands of experiences) I noticed very clear changes in my behavior. I had a tool to help calm me down not only during meditation, but during stressful moments going about my day. I saw immense benefit to continuing to practice. I hadn’t yet been able to reach samadhi, or total concentration on the breath without extraneous thoughts, but I had brief moments where I was able to. There were many interesting and sometimes bizarre experiences that resulted. This kept the practice interesting, but to be honest, if there were no strange experiences I would have kept up the practice because the other benefits were tangible.
Post 1998 So much has happened. I think best to start with the audio files I posted above that detail some of what happened during meditation. Without even knowing what states I was reaching, I was in and through the 8 jhanas. I experienced some of the abhinnas briefly. I’ve reached a point now where there is no reason to practice. The changes have been made and I’m a completely different person. A better person. A more empathic person. A person less filled with ego and selfishness.
I hope you enjoy this website. If you have any questions, do feel free to ask. I don’t do any advertising on the site except to feature some of my own books. I’d like to keep it fairly non-commercial. 😛