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.

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 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 quieter – 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 of 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 – the problem is, we’re always at the top when we see each other.

My friend is going away for a couple of 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 of 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 clueless 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 dump truck. 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 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.

***

Photo of newborn gecko.

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 the 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 rainwater. 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…

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 😛

 

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 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 !

 

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

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

 

Meditation State – I Am the Noise

Note – This is an old journal article I wrote in 1998 or so. I don’t have the date written down on the journal entry.

Sitting in the blue room at home. Meditated for a half hour. The back hurts again today. One needs to meditate consistently in order to build up the back muscle tolerance.

One felt relaxed today. Inclined towards sleep. One did reach state of good concentration – yet the back and the outside noises kept one here. At one point while listening to some noise outside the house one realized that we are the noise. In this case it was an airplane. I was the airplane during that state of mind. It never came to one as such before today.

One could never understand logically how this could be yet one has read of the concept so much. As one sat, the knowledge that one is the same as the noise attenuated to was truthful and unquestioned. An instant knowing as if it had been there all along. An unquestioned knowing – yet in the logical waking state EVERYTHING is questioned by this one. In this state there was no need for questions – it just was. It was no less true because the questioning process had been left out. Rather it was more true and more believable.

The mind then sought to logically explain what had occurred. This mind thought that one felt like he was one with the plane because the sound of the plane was nothing more than his own eardrums and body parts making the sound. Every sound that we hear is merely our own eardrum vibrating because the air has been moved (we suppose) by some object producing its own noise or rhythm.

There is nothing we hear that doesn’t go thru the air that surrounds us. If there is no air, there is no sound – and hence, no “I”. Seriously, if we could take this a step further and say that in a vacuum there is no sound, and therefore there is no “I” as far as the sense of sound goes. If we could also find a place in which there was no smell then we could end the “I” state from that perspective as well. If then we shut out all of the light so that our eyes could not register anything around us that is separate from the “I” then we could stop vision as a justifier of the “I”.

If then, we were to immerse the self in a liquid that would counteract our body weight. We could float naked with no movement whatsoever and no sense of touch to separate us from that which surrounds us. The sense of taste would be negated by the lack of any smells. Perhaps some care would be taken to lessen the chance of some flatulence coming from the stomach. In this state, could we say that we exist or that there is an “I”???

We could go to these great pains to induce this sort of state, or, we could meditate and reach it effortlessly–really without trying.

One has noticed that often times throughout the day one will be in moments of awareness of the present moment. It happened today while painting the kitchen ceiling with texture paint. It was like a zen or meditative experience.

The moment was enjoyed, no matter what it consisted of. There was no thought about what was going on, just experience through the eyes, sense of touch, smell – whatever – and it wasn’t judged or changed by the mind.

It happened at the Indian Restaurant yesterday. One ate the entire meal in awareness. It was truly the most gratifying meal one has ever eaten!!

Mind Shift While Rollerblading – Shifted Consciousness

Mindfulness While Rollerblading… Mind Shift

While rollerblading with Fern I noticed that when I looked down at the pavement there was a point where the pavement started to turn blurry (about 5 feet in front of us as we rode). Different colors were seen in the pavement in streaks. Not only did the pavement appear grey, but it was other colors as well. I saw white, green, and red too. These combined to make the grey. Continuing to look down, the eyes saw that if the blurryness was focused upon the most amazing thing happened… The pattern of blurriness appeared to change from only a linear pattern like

l l l l

l l l l

l l l l l l l l

l l l l l l l l l l l l

l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l

Left foot Right foot

and coming at this body in this pattern, to a pattern that can only be described as fluid-like (water-like) and a pattern like fish scales that moved horizontally, diagonally, and vertically. The entire effect on the mind was like a fantasy state where one felt as if a waterfall was being skated upon. An instant sense of calmness, mindfulness, and non-thinking were prevalent upon the mind. There was no time, no skates, no “me”, no “Fern”. So entrancing was this state that the eyes didn’t notice cars or bikers coming towards it!

The other experience was that when one looked at the pavement far in front (say 6+ feet) it appeared as the mind has known concrete all along–as solid, unchanging, immovable, inflexible, etc. But, when the eyes focused on that point in space where the solid line started to blur because of the speed the body moved over it a remarkable thing was observed. Reality turned to fantasy at about the 5 foot away mark. The solid turned to liquid and impermanent, changing, flexible, moving, etc. The mind registered this and then when the eyes looked away at the trees and surroundings a certain impermanence and transitoriness was observed in all that the eyes examined. Nothing seemed as one has known (experienced) it to be all along.

While meditating tonight a curious thing was experienced. I saw the shadows or shapes of two heads, the one on the right was turned towards the one on the left who was facing me (as if I were observing it). The shape on the right said, why don’t you tell him that I’m inside you, to the other head shape. The one on the left said nothing, but was trying to figure out what the R. Head meant. Then “I” realized that the L head shape was myself as I meditated trying to figure out what the R head meant. Then I realized that the R head was me also! But, it was the essence of me (soul?) that was telling the “outward me” (the body the essence is using) that it needed to tell the entire organism that the essence exists inside of this body (host).

I was quiet for much of the meditation tonight. Some thoughts came and went. Some were lingered upon. Sometimes all was quiet and no thought (or awareness of breathing) was known. Other times the mind showed visual scattergories of subjects. One that sticks in mind was a key that was stuck inside something that had a (carved?) out section to fit the key exactly (like an inlaid pearl), but not that the key would fit exactly (like a lock). It was as if two wooden blocks or coconut halves were separated and the key lay inside one of the halves and fit just perfectly as if it was there, hidden, waiting to be used. I remember thinking that this is a key for some aspect of mindfulness/meditation.

A Meditation Poem

Meditation ebook cover

“Endless Mind…”

Let me sit

a while

body mass dissipates

leaves sponge-like empty form

fingers, arms & legs

all gone

breath slows to stop

a

perfect stillness

all in motion

a death-like moment

of lucid awareness

faint dog barking

is self

whole room breathing

self-too

mind not ending

no confines

of body

of life

It’s all as it is

Nothing missing

Nothing his

No right this

Rapt-solid concentration

Everything is full, no hollowness

No right way

No rules to follow

Blow thru ears

endless mind…

The Process – Meditation Mystery…

This a.m. while sitting on the balcony of our 7th floor hotel room in Melbourne one was not trying to meditate–but one was just experiencing and being in the present moment. After a short time one blanked out for some periods of 1-10 seconds. One felt that otherness perch on the head for a moment (for lack of a better way to describe it).

An e x p a n s e opened up–almost imperceptibly but one was very attentive–yet couldn’t describe it even as it came and was with one! Briefly the sky got a shade lighter and a presence was felt somewhere in the L hemi of the brain or head, or above the head on the left side. One didn’t look up–yet felt it there in that region.

One experienced this for a short time–and didn’t notice it leaving and so presumably it stayed or left without a sign.

The White Elephant in my Head

You know the saying, there is a white elephant in the room?

Well, there is one in my head. It’s always there, it’s quite plain that it is there. It has gone nowhere for years, it’s just right there. It doesn’t appear to be going anywhere…

For about 14 years now I’ve asked myself – what will you do now? What is the best thing to focus on now? How is it that you will go through life and provide for you… for your family? What is your life’s work? What can you do that is unique? What can you do that means something?

And it’s always been there – right at the forefront of my mind – unignorable. It’s right here – the elephant is more pronounced than anything in my life – ever. It was more profound than having children or finding the greatest girl to spend my time with. It was so powerful that the world changed as the elephant made it’s way into my head.

The elephant is gigantic… all pervasive.

I’ve put it out of mind with my ego, with my utter lack of respect and deference to it. I’ve tossed it aside for years – over a decade – in pursuit of other things that fit the mold of “me” better than it did.

The elephant is there as a result of the jhanas that came so amazingly, years back.

There’s an elephant in my head named Jhana… and she is always there waiting to return… if only I allow her to.

And I’ve just not allowed her to recently…

I am still not sure there is room in this life for something that takes over… and she does…

What I think most people don’t realize about meditation is that it is good for the meditator… it is heaven really… heaven on earth when Jhana decides to visit… and it isn’t addictive – it isn’t a choice one makes, to chase her… but, it is a revolution of the mind that occurs when she comes. J. Krishnamurti, and UG Krishnamurti describe these changes at a cellular level that they thought must have been going on… I cannot disagree with or agree with it – but it doesn’t sound far fetched to this mind as I consider it.

The changes she wreaks are overwhelming… final.

The change in personality is total… and other-worldly.

It’s astonishing really… and yet that word pales.

And today i am aware that she is still there… and that the elephant isn’t leaving…

and that the questions I’ve asked in the past about what now, what is best, what to do… are all so pointless…

🙂

The World is Illusion

This occurred on Dec 2, 2011 at the top of a small mountain on the temple grounds of Wat Tham Seua in Krabi, Thailand.

To clarify, the sense of vision appears to be an illusion.

Sitting on the top of the mountain today I noticed far off – couple hundred meters – something red on one of the trees. This was up about 800 feet off the ground, and I was over 900 feet up vertically. There was nothing but sheer cliff below the red thing, so I was looking at it intently, trying to understand what in the world was red that had gotten up there. It didn’t look like a balloon, garbage, or any animal that I could think of. It was quite a mystery.

I stared at it intently – trying to figure it out.

The visual field started changing.

Sometimes it was 3D, sometimes 2D, and sometimes there was no separation between me and what i was looking at. It was like watching a movie, but, it was coming through my eyes… or, more rightly – through my perception of what the eyes were showing. The brain was acting in a way that was different, and the “normal” 3-D realistic image that I see with my eyes when they are open – was changing over and over to other things. There were times the contrast of the scene of mountains before me – was very high… other times, split seconds later – it had changed to very low contrast. There were patterns in the trees that became evident, and then the mountain appeared bubbled out in sections – very 3D, but wrong – from what I know of the mountain – and I’ve seen it hundreds of times from that vantage point.

Next, there were river-like tributaries on a map flowing down the side of the mountain. No water – just the path – as if I was looking at a map show me the way the rain fell down the mountain, and where it went and pooled into bigger channels. The thing is – I was just looking at treetops, I couldn’t have seen anything underneath – no channels where rain could have flowed.

At one point as I stared at the barely visible red “thing” I noticed that the entire picture was starting to rotate, to spiral, but, it didn’t move. I’ll edit a photo and show you what I mean. Quite odd, and I don’t remember that happening before.

Sort of like the image, but not exactly. Impossible to recreate. I could do it with my camera on a new image, but the mountain isn’t in front of me now – so this will have to do.

So, what was the result?

As I stared at the rapidly changing scene, there was a feeling that if I just let go of looking, it would all happen. It would go further.

There were people behind me coming up the stairs, and though I was concentrating for a few minutes, I wasn’t able to fully let go and let it happen.

So, maybe next time if I think of it…

If you are having strange experiences during your everyday life, after having jhanas visit during your meditation – please write and let me know what you’re experiencing…

Cheers!

Cloudy Head – Uncreative State

I’ve been feeling this for weeks now, it’s pretty impossible to describe, but I’ll give it a try.

There’s nothing going on in my head most times.

When I try to write a fiction book, think about something in the future, plan something – it just isn’t there. My thinking process, I mean. It’s just voidness up there. It’s like I’ve suddenly become dumb or something. I’ve always wished for this state – to be so dumb, I don’t even know it… and maybe that’s what is finally happening! lol. I despise having a mind that is always thinking, planning, creating, and analyzing. It’s tiring. It’s pointless.

As much as I try – I cannot create anything anymore. my mind is on stop speed for some reason.

I was excited for a while before this state – to start writing fiction again. I just can’t do it. I’m coming up absolutely blank when I try to think of an interesting plot for a story.

I was up the mountain today and it had rained on me hard. It was almost dark. There were clouds so thick at the top, with the rain, that I couldn’t see through far at all – 30 meters max maybe. I realized… this is what my head is going through right now too. Same thing. It’s like my head is cloudy in there and not linking up as it normally does. I feel really, tremendously dumb.

Now, if this is the endgame – the way I’ll be for many years before dying, that’s cool. Just wish I knew so I could adjust. I don’t need to write books, I’ll just sit on a step and watch the world go by.

Not at all sure what this state is…

Day 1 – Intensive Meditation Practice

I thought for a couple of minutes – what to call this that I’ve started. I’m calling it intensive practice for lack of a better phrase coming to mind. Is it intensive – I guess. But I’m not really intent on anything. If that makes sense. It’s intensive just because I’ll make it a focus now. It’s been in the background for so many years, I’ve not regularly sat much at all in 10 years. This will be a more intensive practice than I’ve had in 10 years, that’s all.

Starting today I want to focus daily on being mindful of the present moment and probably do some sitting and walking meditation every day.

The mind – thoughts and ego, are nearly absent lately. When I’m quiet. When I’m not quiet and listening to the mp3s I brought from home and singing or thinking about the past – mind is there. It’s here when there are things going on – when I’m quiet, it’s gone. When I try to focus on the breath as I was able to in the past – I cannot. “I” cannot. There seems not to be an “I” when I want one – when it’s quiet and I want to focus on breath. So meditation becomes almost the same as mindfulness of the present moment, there is no mind and only direct experience – unfiltered by the mind.

I differentiate the two – mindfulness of present moment and meditation because the level and length of time I can stay mindful of the moment is extended during meditation. I’m doing nothing but just sitting or walking during meditation and it’s much easier to remain in a thoughtless, mindless state for a longer period of time than if I’m going about daily activities.

So today I did some sitting meditation. My back was extremely sore and yet after 15 minutes or so I was able to see it for what it was – nothing – and watch other mind objects or sensory objects going on. Birds seemed to be all over, I heard chirps of many kinds. The cicadas have come back after a short time away during the rainy season. They are like mindfulness bells. They have a gentle sound when they’re far away. When they’re 20 feet away it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. People would talk, cameras would click. The wind was very strong – 40mph gusts that sometimes were sustained for a minute or more.

After the pain wasn’t the main focus the arms and feet disappeared. Meaning – there was no feeling that they existed. If you haven’t read any of my journal articles or seen video or listened to mp3’s about what happens during meditation this is a routine experience. It usually starts in the feet or hands and goes inward, numbing everything… sometimes the entire body feels as if it’s not there anymore. Like I don’t have a body. It’s strange to write, but the experience is quite ‘normal’ now since it has happened many times.

In this case it didn’t progress to cover the body – it just stayed – arms, hands, feet and sometimes legs were absent. The wind was so strong that it was felt with the hair on my arms and legs. I said something about that in the video – but didn’t finish. I started to talk about bicycle racing – when I was shaving my hair on my arms and legs – and how it made me feel so slippery while facing a headwind. Any wind, wasn’t felt at all. It’s a great morale booster when cycling or swimming, not to feel the resistance, but more so – not to have the mind create mental resistance. The wind is not much to overcome, but the mind makes it into this wall pushing you back – and it’s quite a dramatic effect a little bit of wind could have.

So, I thought about that as the wind was blowing so hard it felt as if it’d take me as a kite off the top of the mountain. I wished for it for a brief second.

I will probably shave my arms and legs today or tomorrow if my razors are sharp enough. I anticipate sitting at same spot a few times a week and it would be nice not to feel the wind so much.

Anyway, so – I made a video about the experience… I’ll try to make a video each day – and pull out just the audio for those of you that just want to listen. The video portion won’t be of anything spectacular. Today’s video was taken just walking through the jungle in the foothills area of some limestone karsts here in Krabi, Thailand.

Day 1 audio only (3.5Mb)

After the videos were made I went to a quiet walk through the forest that I know of away from the temple. It’s only a couple hundred-meter walk, but it’s almost always free of other hikers and cars, trucks and motorbikes aren’t heard.

At the end of that trail, it leads to a stream. I sat on the raised wooden walkway and watched the crabs below. There were so many different types. In Florida, we have a couple kinds of crab that can be seen if you sit down near the beach. There must have been 20 different kinds in the small area around me.

Thailand is like that… the variety of wildlife is amazing. Just yesterday I saw a walking stick that was about 11 inches stretched out (pic below) and another colorful blue-green beetle that I’ve not seen before. Oh – I also had a spider jump on me in my room that I’ve not seen before. Oh wait, I saw another spider on the steps at the temple that I’d not ever seen before. And yet another I just remembered – a very large mosquito – as big as my hand, I think a mosquito – I took a photo – also below.

If you’re looking, you’re going to find unique bugs in Thailand. Just one of the bonuses of living here. To me anyway!

So I noticed as the day went on – the mind started to rebel at being mindful so much. There was some anger that it was being made to be present in the moment all the time. Yes, not joking. It was as if it was rebelling. There was still ego left – and it didn’t want to be subjugated like this for so long. I think that will increase as time goes on here, at least for a little while – then it magically disappears. I had a similar thing happen so many years ago. The mind furiously rebelled at being made to be quiet – it was much more difficult then – but, it reached a point where the ego dissolved enough that it offered no resistance anymore. Every sitting session or period of mindfulness was without the resistance of that type after that point…

So, interesting to see it arise – and it was difficult not to just throw in the towel and say – Oh, forget it! What am I meditating for again? WHY? What is the point? Where is this going?

I watched those reactions arise and let them stay as long as they did – and then they went. Amazing mind processes… good to start to get to know it again on this intimate level… as a subject… an experiment.

Photos from today below:

The foothills area is where 8 monks live in kutis (huts) and also in makeshift
rooms inside the caves. This shrine pictured is at the base of a 800 foot
(270m) limestone karst. Kids always run around on the marble floor here.

This was the massive bug. I think it’s a male mosquito – not sure though.
It was as big as my hand – this pic is not lifesize, it’s too small!

 

It’s a happy time when rambutans come into season! I bought a kilogram
of them today – they were so delicious. But, the sweetest and biggest ones
are coming in the next month or so. The best rambutans come from Ban Na San
District, just south of Surat Thani. They have a rambutan festival there yearly.

 

Here is the largest walking stick I’ve ever seen – 11 inches I’m guessing.
This is 2nd walking stick I’ve seen at the top of the mountain.

Still State of Mind

Published July 6, 2010. Page updated 8 March 2019.

There is still – after a couple years now, I haven’t looked back to see when it was exactly, this underlying state of absolute stillness in the mind when I’m not doing something.

I can work all day on writing articles, books, solving some problem, web development, whatever it is… and then when I stop – when it’s done and I don’t choose to do the next thing – there is just nothing. The mind is there – aware… awake… ready to do something if i asked something of it – but, otherwise it’s just there in an absolutely still state.

It’s not calming to have it happen… it just is. There is no relief in that state, though afterward I can think about it and say – oh, that must be good for the me somehow. It must be stress reducing to let the mind go to that state sometimes. Often even maybe.

But, there is something about being in that state for a long time that isn’t right with my active mind.

I haven’t let it go on much past a couple of minutes.

I’m trying hard now to understand why the resistance of the active thinking mind of now – with going into the thoughtless state for a long time…

1. What is the point? This seems to be a big one… is there any point to sitting there and experiencing that state? It’s nothing new anymore, it’s there every time I stop doing anything with the mind. It’s not a novelty. It just is. And, it’s just that… there’s nothing really pulling me to do it more.

2. There is some idea in my head that by going into this silence for a long time, I’ll come out changed. I saw what happens when the mind first is transformed after experiencing jhanas… and it’s a revolutionary change. My wife and I split because I had completely changed. I wasn’t the person she married – or the person I even knew.

Is that what is on the horizon for me if I go into this silent space often?

Just doesn’t seem to be any real good that can come from it when I have responsibilities to my wife, my daughter.

So that’s how it’s all going here – how about YOU?

🙂

Vern

Enlightenment Dreams?

A little status update – I’ve not written for a while – nothing really happening. I’m not consciously sitting at all to get anywhere… to get to any state… I occasionally still have a state come where thought stops in the middle of what I’m doing and I’m just sitting here looking at the computer (usually) and in complete peace of mind…. no thought – no want, need, thinking that i need to do something – continue what I was doing… there is no memory of what I was doing a second prior… very different state…

Anyway, so maybe 3 -4 times over the past month or so I’ve noticed that as I sleep – either falling asleep or actually sleeping and dreaming this happens…

I find myself doing something – anything really… and gradually i let go of the thought… and they fade out- leaving me with a oneness – a complete, pure – untainted oneness like I get with meditation at times… but it just comes during this waking moment (during sleep)…

There is more of a totalness to these dream experiences than what happens during real waking hours…

What I mean is – I feel a movement – a change of perception – of reality – where I become everything in front of me, behind me, etc… I become one with it – but actually become it. The body is completely lost – gone – and whatever “i” am – becomes the whole scene in front of me… I blend into that.

Different than what I have while awake – but, quite difficult to explain – like everything that happens – eh?

🙂

Still in Thailand. Still working hard on internet projects… when I stop “doing” – there is nothing. I’m instantly in that state of no thought – no desire – no anything… and it feels – ok – not good, not bad, not happy, not sad, not something cool – just nothng because thought is absent… there is an awareness that things have changed – but thats it… everything is fine…

again – impossible to describe…

anyone want to share anything happening with you – ? feel free…

aimforawesome@gmail.com

Short Dream: I’m in the Way

I just remembered this dream last night, though I had it about 2 weeks ago. I thought I wrote a txt file for it – like I usually do for odd dreams but I can’t find it just now. I’ll try to remember. Wait, maybe better to search my email – as I’m sure I wrote it down somewhere….

No, not there… Ok, here goes…

It was a short dream. I was standing up outside. I was leaning back slightly. There was a force holding me up – as the wind would if it were very strong, but there was no wind – just  a force.

It was coming from behind and pushing through… it was as if, if I let go – it would push straight through me and blow the body apart into pieces…

There was little feeling of the body at the time – and the tiniest sense of it – was all that was left of ‘me’. I guess if that got out of the way – this force would explode through me…

Layers of Reality 6-21-09

Today I went to one of my favorite quiet spots. I layed down and watched the mind as it responded to stimuli in the environment – sensed by one of the senses…

To say I watched the mind is not accurate – but I’m at a loss how to explain what happened.

There doesn’t appear to be a watcher unless I want the watcher there. The watcher is that which is aware that I do what I do. It is the ego I guess. It’s the “me” that I think is me. I can make it stay all day as I do work on the computer – building websites, doing everything I need to do to make $ to survive and provide for my family.

Well, when it’s quiet… when I’m not ‘doing’ anything – it isn’t there. Me – isn’t there. But, there is some awareness of what is going on in the mind as the mind registers sounds, sights, pain…

Memory still works too. After I come out of the session where I was just aware of what went on… I can remember the strange experiences too.

There was a strange occurrence today…

The eyes were closed – but the eyeballs behind the eyelids were focused out somewhere – past the nose – straight out. The body was sitting now.

There’s some awareness of a screen or field of vision -even with eyes closed. It’s an area that’s lit up a big – like sitting in a car and looking through a windshield of a car – which would represent the field of vision shape – roughly.

As the mind was aware of itself noticing sounds and things and yet creating no thought or linking to memories to figure out what the sounds were the field of vision shifted… and all turned left. As it did, it revealed a few layers – I didn’t count. I just watched. All the layers rotated left so I was looking at the sides of them – from an angle.

The left most layer which was brightest – yet still very dull in brightness or hue, dropped away and disappeared. Leaving the other layers. But, when it dropped there was a reality shift in the mind. Something changed.

The mind was aware of this state for a while (15 minutes??) and then the eyes opened and looked at the mountain in front of the eyes. The eyes showed the mountain to the mind – and the mind responded – showing colors and shape… and that’s it… no more movement. No naming it – ‘mountain’. No naming the color green or the trees “trees”.

Gradually I came out of it – or rather, came back into it – the ‘me’ came back into it and got down from the stand and walked down the path to return home.

I wish I had photoshop skills to show you what happened visually…

I’ll try to explain again what it resembled…

Picture looking at an 8×10 piece of paper horizontally in landscape mode – right out in front of you. This is the field of view – or the screen of your mind you see when your eyelids are closed but eyes are open behind them.

The paper started rotating left – as if on an axis in the center of the 11″ side. As it rotated I saw there were multiple papers – some inches apart that also rotated the same way… so now there were 2, 3 or more slices of paper turned at an angle so I could see how thin the slices were and that there were more than 2 or 3.

The one on the left fell over flat to the left and then fell beyond view and disappeared. This left the others standing – and they were much darker and less defined than the first slice of paper. They were fuzzy and got fuzzier and darker the more to the right I looked, at the far right seeming to blend in with the dark of my field of vision as it was then – very dark, amorphous.

Hope that helped.

During this meditation (before the strange experience above) I also focused on the hands in the lap for a while… eventually the breath slowed and the hands disappeared… the body disappeared briefly and came back… the hands – forearms stayed gone for some minutes…

ok – that’s enough writing – tired tonight…

What Am I Looking At? 5-31-09

Over the last few months 6? 8? there’s been this constant stillness of mind that is always there. If I stop typing right now – it’s there – instant empty mind. No thoughts. It’s funny… it’s the state that I used to try to reach before with sitting sessions. Now it’s here – what’s to try for from this point forward?
Today is last day of May.

5/31/09

i noticed something over the last few days… my mind is needing some real effort to get started in a different direction.

Between thoughts – between actions and concerted efforts where I’m doing something – there is a break. A revert back to the base of the mind – which, as I’ve said has been like a flatline state of activity – no thought.

So usually I’m seeing this when i’m on the computer… i open a folder and look at the files there and there’s no recognition about what they are…

If I stare at a file on my desktop – it doesn’t make sense – nothing about it makes sense – symbols don’t turn into thoughts which tell me what I’m looking at.

So, I can stare at it for a while… and then I just open it – double click to see what it is… then gradually I’m aware of what it is…

the strange state is continuing… 🙂

vern
If anyone is having or has had a similar experience, please write me… I don’t know anyone personally that has had this. Thanks…  ( AimforAwesome [{ @ ]} gmail. c o m )

Nibbana, Nirvana, or Hypnotic State? 5-23-09

sat 23 may 09

Without writing a book about this… i want to mention it i guess because if at some point nibbana comes despite my not chasing it – there should be a path or a succession of things that happened that others can look at to help them realize they too are on the same path…

i don’t appear to be ready for anything to happen… i swear at the dog outside to shut up… I get frustrated when the computer – a logical device, acts so illogically.

I see myself as if i’m beside – and looking on during these times. I’m watching myself act through it… the body is angry.

Anyway… so, saturday i was shooting dean’s welcome video for his sites. in the palm grove next to wat tum sang phet.

I was looking at the camera ready to start part of the monologue when I had a moment of awakening… of experiencing the moment – but, it was a state unlike any other I’ve had… I’ve not been hypnotized – but maybe this is what hypnotism is like?

I was staring at the camera… and the world changed. The camera was the center of focus and everything around in the peripheral field of view changed to be a little blurred, and then sparkly… as I realized that i slipped into another state I started to be aware of the sparkly as vibrations… i was watching the vibration of everything – moving at cellular level or – however you wish to say… as if alive… even the dead leaves on the dirt… everything moved… appeared to sparkle like stars…

the background grew a little more bright I think – not dark like a night sky…

there was no thought… no emotion… and just this watching of things as they twinkled…

it was a feeling not too unlike eggata – one pointedness of mind… where the mind gets so focused on an object that the object is the sole focus. This time it was the camera – just for having been in the center of the field of view at that time – possibly.

was the mind just ready at that time to focus…?

was the activity i had done for an hour – talking to the camera about dean’s sites so relaxing and gradually focusing the mind that it was prepared to focus instantly like that?

there was this idea that if i let go – immersed myself in the experience that that would be ‘it’ – that would be the total awakening…

I let go a little and felt another change – my body wasn’t felt and it was moving increasingly toward a 100% experience outside of me – outside the ego… I grabbed back at the ego – at this ego-filled self and found enough that the process stopped expanding and taking me deeper… then i just stayed in a similar state as before and watched it for a little while… finally choosing – as I nearly always did – to end it…  not giving it any special attention to continue on… not grasping at it at all…

in hindsight – this putting it off when it comes… putting off spontaneous jhana states and other states when they come might just be responsible for urging the process on further…

anyway – another cool experience as i look back on it…

The state of the mind now – is same as it has been for a while… i can work when i choose to work. when i have nothing going on – and am not responding to anything – the mind reverts to blankness… no thought… no emotion… no anything.

Always there is this bit of knowledge in my head somewhere that says… if you let it all go – that will be it… nibbana will find you…

And so it feels like I’ve known that for so many years… but now it’s even harder to ignore as I experience states like this one the other day that spontaneously arise… similar to, and yet different from states that occur during jhana and other experiences.

If anyone is having or has had a similar experience, please write me… I don’t know anyone personally that has had this. Thanks…  ( AimforAwesome [{ @ ]} gmail. c o m )

Constant Stillness 5-16-09

Over the last few months there’s been this constant stillness of mind that is always there. If I stop typing right now – it’s there – instant empty mind. No thoughts. It’s funny… it’s the state that I used to try to reach before with sitting sessions. Now it’s here – what’s to try for from this point forward?

Is this Nirvana? I was just going to say – “I don’t think so.” But, really – I’ve no idea. It’s a very different state. I’ve never met anyone in this state. I’ve read of it happening to a few people but it seemed to be a phase… It seems to be very similar to what UG Krishnamurti described and I’ll have to go back and see some of his videos to see if it’s a match for his experience in any way. I think he used to say that he talked and interacted when he did… and when he stopped – that was it. There was nothing there that was coming out. If someone interacted with him – he could interact back. Me too.

I think mine goes a step further though… I can also motivate myself to do things. I can work on websites, write articles, ride the bike, hike a mountain, etc…

When I’m not doing anything – consciously focusing on thinking and doing – it’s gone. It’s back to the no thought state. It matters little how engrossed I was in something before I go back to nothing. It can go back to the nothingness state instantly… without memories replaying or a nagging to get back to the thinking/doing state.

Very strange.

And so – it’s been this way for months… and I’ve sat to ‘meditate’ a few times – and yet – what was there – nothing – same as if i just walk around quietly or drive the motorbike, or whatever. I can react to things that are necessary – that stimulate me – I can respond.

I can consciously DO things – but, it has to be a conscious effort now. Before, my entire life… things came out of the thought circus that was always churning around… now it’s a concerted effort to actually do something or think something – unless there is an activity – a stimulation that demands response on the outside -and then I can respond easily.

Anyway – so that’s the current state of things…

Oh, one more thing.

I read something about the state of perpetual mind or something – and it reminded me of a state I’ve experienced while in Jhana in the past… it was a state where the mind felt as if it permeated the cosmos… it was infinite… boundless space – is how it’s described in Buddhist texts? I think something along those lines…

So, just without thinking I tried to feel the same feeling as what the jhana was like before when I meditated and went through the different levels and reached it…

it was there instantly.

There it was… that feeling that the mind was already everywhere. There was no feeling in my arms, legs… body. It was as if the body was gone at that time.

I stayed like that – sitting here on this chair for a short while – minute or so?

Then went back to what I was doing… giving it a little thought, but not much – I just got back on the computer and continued web development.

If anyone is having or has had a similar experience, please write me… I don’t know anyone personally that has had this. Thanks…  ( AimforAwesome [{ @ ]} gmail. c o m )

Another strange dimensional experience 3-16-08 >

Glowing Head | Strange Dream

This dream occurred on 5-1-2008.

[This page last updated: 8 March 2019]

Yesterday I lay on the floor in my room after having done some exercise outside. It’s hot here in Thailand, some days hover close to 40 degrees Celcius. I think that’s 97 degrees F. Not sure exactly, but it’s warm, I know that!

So I was laying on my back, arms to the side. The mind was in the state for meditating and so I tried to watch the breath for a while – forcing myself to watch the breath. As has been the case lately, it’s a hopeless exercise because I can’t get there to be a ‘me’ or ‘self’ to watch the breath. It’s strangely absent.

I tried about 10 minutes – repeatedly trying and trying. It just wasn’t going to happen.

Instead, I then focused on just relaxing the body and not thinking anything – letting thought stop, mind stop.

A numbness came – the limbs first and then the body was absent. Just felt like there was no body. I was aware of sounds, but nothing of body. Mind was still.

In that state, I drifted off to sleep for a few minutes. I had a short dream. It was very short. Saying it was 5 seconds – is probably exaggerating. It might have been 2 seconds.

The dream was very short – one scene. It was of two hands holding a head that was glowing – though already I forget what colors – I believe orange – but, no matter I think. It was glowing as if on fire… as if a magic fire inside the head. The head was neither man nor woman… it was just a head. It was being handed down by two hands – one on either side of the head. And it was set into my head. It was absorbed into my head.

The feeling as it came into my head was one of thanks – of gratitude that something – someone – something – offered me this gift… whatever it was. There was no idea about what it was – though now, awake – I could think of some. No point really. It was a very unique dream and lasted just seconds. I awoke and remembered it for a few minutes. My head was light. My mind replaying the scene and searching for the feeling inside.

The feeling was just ‘thanks’.

So, that was my strange dream. Today is my 42nd birthday. I’ll sit here in a few minutes, I’m in that thoughtless state…

🙂

Buddhism | The Truth of It

I wrote this on April 23, 2009.

[This text last updated on 8 March 2019]

I’m not Buddhist per se. I’ve never been. I might have thought I was during a time years ago – but that was ignorance about what I was doing. Meditating in the way of Vipassana doesn’t make one Buddhist. Reading Buddhist texts doesn’t make one Buddhist. Learning about Buddhism doesn’t make one Buddhist. Being Buddhist means believing in Buddhism. This is something I’ve not yet done.

I’ve not believed in anything since I gave up on Christianity and the god of the bible. I’ve studied lots of religions – isms… with beliefs that usually required faith of some sort. Faith to me is impossible in any circumstance. I gave it up as I left Christianity. I’ve recognized over the past 20 years since then that faith has no role in my life. One can live by objective reality and what one experiences. No more is needed. I don’t need to believe in a savior outside of myself. There doesn’t need to be some god waiting to make things better in the end. I’m OK with any scenario after I die – or here as I live.

I’ve read a lot about meditation. Not a lot about Buddhism. I’ve skipped that mostly. I’ve not wanted to know someone’s idea of what was necessary to find truth outside of the physical act of meditation. I don’t believe that the Buddha was anyone special. I don’t believe that the teachers that taught the Buddha the levels of Jhana were anyone special. I don’t look up to anyone. I don’t have any heroes. I don’t have any need for affiliation with a certain group, religious or otherwise. I just don’t have those needs like most people do. Why? I don’t know – that’s just ‘me’. Maybe it’s you too?

I meditated for just under a year back around 1997. I sat and watched the breath. The body calmed. The mind calmed. The mind stopped. Thoughts stopped. The world stopped. Jhanas came rather easily from what I’ve been told from monks here in Thailand. Apparently most people have a heck of a time reaching them. They came just naturally for me. I have a theory about ‘why’ that happened.

Briefly, it’s because I didn’t believe anything about Buddhism beforehand. I didn’t try to follow some magic formula. I didn’t follow the rules of Buddhism. I didn’t follow a teacher or a book or anything. I just sat and watched the breath. When it calmed I watched the calm breath. When it felt like it stopped – I watched that. I watched the mind struggle with the idea that the breath stopped. I watched the mind calm back down…

I watched the mind enter Jhana levels. All eight are familiar to me. I’ve been there. I’ve seen the 8th Jhana – I don’t know how deeply I was in it as I have not become a “never returner” and I am not an enlightened person. I still have the silliness of ego and yet I’ve been changed – without a doubt – irreversibly I guess – because I am not the same person.

When I ran from meditation it was from fear. Fear of going too fast. Fear of losing my mind – in a mental health non-productive way so to speak. I was studying for my masters in psychology and the things I experienced during meditation and afterward were very similar to symptoms of someone losing their mind.

I’ve since come to understand that the western view of the mind is quite different from the eastern one. I was told by monks that the experiences were normal and advanced and nothing to be afraid of. Still, even knowing the Jhanas and other experiences that came during concentrated meditation were normal – the ego was disappearing so suddenly and the personality change that accompanied that destroyed a marriage very quickly, and put me on a strange course of life.

So – I ran for 6-7 years or so. Ran away from meditation. I built up the ego again – as much as possible. I didn’t meditate at all for many years. I’ve since restarted to some degree, living here in Thailand and coming to grips with the idiotic things I did with my life after running away from meditation.

And I’ve meditated again here sometimes. Jhanas have come easily and immediately. It seems that when I became quiet and sat – the mind followed very quickly. Currently, I seem to be experiencing a strange state where there is nothing underneath the mind candy of the day when I do decide to be quiet and stop all incoming noise.

What I mean is – if I stop typing now, and I just listen. There is nothing. The mind is active, calm, at peace… There’s nothing flying around in the mind about wants, needs, pain, past, future. It’s just as if the present moment is everything there is. Thoughts are gone.

Occasionally thoughts can come – but, they’re just noted and they go. Sounds – of chickens outside are noted, let go. Cars passing outside, the drapes blowing in the wind, a twinge of neck or back pain – just noted and gone as quickly as they came. Not noted by the conscious – rather, by something else. Or maybe by nothing else? Not sure how that could be since something must experience something of the object before it goes.

I guess it’s kind of like a reflective board. The “me” has become like a mirror… the sound of the chicken comes in the ear, rattles the eardrum, the mind doesn’t move – the sound bounces off the mind and goes back out the ear – reflected and unchanged.

That’s what it seems like. All sensory objects seem to be doing this in this state.

Before this – (before the end of last year) meditation was the best way to get into this state. Now – it’s just the underlying state all the time. If I’m not quiet throughout the entire day then I experience it at night when I’m quiet. There’s nothing to distract – no mind candy like music to bounce around in my head. When it’s quiet – it’s deathly quiet. There’s nothing really.

What a very odd state.

So, getting around to what I wanted to write about today…

This idea of Buddhism as having some truth never really mattered to me. I suspected that it did have some amount of truth in it because immediately my meditation seemed to have changed me. Changed the ego. Changed everything. My entire perspective on life changed after entering Jhanas even for the first time. After the hundredth time or whatever number – there has been a profound change. Buddhism says that meditation is a path to enlightenment. Is that true? I’ve still no idea, but it’s something I’ve started to ask myself.

There is a western monk that has written a couple of things – or talked about a couple of things and others have transcribed his talks… that I’ve become interested in as a resource to help me answer my question about Buddhism having any truth.

The things he says – sometimes hit me right on. It’s like he’s talking about me and what I’ve experienced already. And yet there’s more. I’m not a finished product. I know this – but, I didn’t know why really. I mean, I know why – I ran as fast as I could away from this powerful meditation and the process that was going on.

Only recently I’ve begun to wonder – what is next? What is the point of staying in this present state when it seems so unfinished?

So, I’ve read some of his ideas. His name is Ajahn Brahmavamso.

I’ve cut and pasted a long article (below) he wrote about Deep Insight that was really something amazing to me. It was amazing because it hit home with me. He talks of the Jhanas in a way which I agree with totally. He talks about the states that occur before entering Jhana and then that state that occurs as one leaves the Jhana. He talks about insight being best practiced while in the state upon exit of Jhana.

I was amazed that he knew this much about it. I’ve experienced just what he says to be true of the state upon exit… and it was nice to read about what he felt like after coming out of Jhana – the peace, the serenity that lasts, sometimes for days – is just so other-worldly. It was so nice to read he had experienced that as there are so few people that can write about it – or that do write about it maybe, with authority.

It was great to read that he thought he might be enlightened after coming out of a particularly powerful Jhana session that left him with a changed state that lasted overnight. It really does feel like that – and of course, one asks of the self – am I enlightened – and there’s no answer. How could there be? Who knows what enlightenment is until it’s felt?

So I found this talk extremely interesting for that aspect of it. Then, as I read more I began to understand something about Buddhism that I hadn’t cared to learn about before. All the Pali and Sanskrit words that I never bothered to learn and refused to say… I read about some of them. I thought that maybe the Buddhists have something here.

Ajahn Brahmavamso said that the best way to insight about the truth of the world is that upon exiting the Jhanas one can look at the truth about life… Namely one can look at Impermanence (anicca), Suffering (Dukkha), and Not Self (anatta) while in that state.

He then went on to go further into what it meant to look at each of these and gave some further explanation.

I’d not done any purposeful focus on anything related to these things before – and yet, there was a natural inclination of my mind to focus on these things to some degree after I came out of the Jhana states as I did. I wanted my experience with meditation, with whatever happens to be as pure as possible without being influenced by what I thought should happen or by what others thought should happen.

In this way, all the Jhanas came naturally. I never manipulated the Jhanas by focusing on something in particular or not – the way that he says to do so in the following description of Jhanas. I didn’t want that. To me – the entire idea behind going further with meditation was that one “let’s go”. That is the crucial piece of the puzzle that I held onto throughout my practice. Let it all go. Nothing is worth attaching to that pops into the mind.

I didn’t want to know that meditation teachers thought I should focus on this or that because I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to let the natural process take place however that came about.

So, in this sense – I was successful at what I thought could work. I let go of any teaching other than focusing on the breath until the mind stopped. At that point, I noted things as they came up and let them go. During the day when I wasn’t meditating, I tried to be mindful of the present moment like Thich Nhat Hanh taught. That’s all I did. That was the essence of what I thought I needed to experience.

And, it worked. So far so good.

Now, I find myself in this strange state. There is nothing underneath the acting of the mind and body that takes place every day. When I stop – there is nothing in the mind. It’s empty. It’s a mirror reflecting back out objects as they come and hit the mirror.

What to do with this? Anything?

I was wondering if perhaps I should now use some of what I’ve learned about Buddhism from this teacher and contemplate anicca, Dukkha, and anatta with that quiet state of the mind.

Should I now abandon my tried and true method for going further into the process?

It seems to be rolling along on its own – but, should I now take it and direct it somewhat? Should I purposefully look at these things – to find out the truth about them?

That’s the question. The answer is – yes, I’ll do it just for the sake of doing it. If it works – wow. I’ll have learned something. If not – no matter. No point in not trying since I’ve read it already! Ha!

So the point of this journal entry is to tell you that I’m likely going to put this into practice and see what comes of it – if anything. Not attached to the idea that something will or won’t. But, it’s something to do. Ajahn Brahmavamso apparently has gone through these things on his own.

Has he become enlightened? I don’t know him. I’ve not met him. I’d probably not know if I did meet him. I just feel something good about him because he has had very similar experiences to me. That in itself is quite amazing. Maybe there’s more I can learn.

I think there is more truth in Buddhism – in their beliefs, but before this, I wanted to find out entirely on my own. If I use this bit of a cheat to examine impermanence, suffering and it works – then I’ll adopt it into my beliefs. If not – I’ll go about it the same way I was, without guidance, just watching, noting, letting go and being mindful during the day.

Oh, a note – if you do read the transcribed talk below… I DON’T agree with him about the “fermented fish curry” being something not delicious! It’s called, Bla-rah or bla-lah here in Thailand and it’s spicy and quite delicious once you’ve acquired a taste for it. It’s exceptional really, and one of the things I’m not looking forward to not having if I return to the states.   🙂

Have a great day!

Vern

* * *

Deep Insight

Ajahn Brahmavamso

 

This article is a transcription of one of the talks given by Ajahn Brahmavamso during a 9-day meditation retreat in North Perth, April 1999.

 


This morning’s talk is the last of the major talks of this retreat and so it’s nice to talk about those things which really count. In other words, it’s about the practice of deep insight to find out the way of the mind, the way of the world, and also to be able to have such insight which can really change one’s way of looking at things and thereby change one’s life. So this is that deep insight we’re looking at, which is life-changing. And that’s the sort of deep insight which the Buddha was recommending and which forms the heart of this path.

When I talked in the last few days about the Eightfold Path, in some parts of the suttas there’s a Ten-fold Path. They add an extra two factors on the end. Did you know that? This is the hidden two factors of the eightfold path. We only give these secret teachings at the end of a retreat! They’re not really secret at all. The ninth factor is right wisdom, right understanding, samma-nyana, an understanding which is not just view, but which is a real deep seeing. The tenth factor is the perfect release – freedom, samma-vimutti. But it’s nice to add those two factors onto the end of the eightfold path. It’s as if the eightfold path is what you’re doing and the ninth and tenth factors are what happens as a result. By practicing the Eightfold Path you get that insight wisdom, samma-nyana, the clear seeing into reality. Seeing things as they truly are and not as they appear to be, or as we want them to be, but as they truly are. A result of that is the tenth factor – perfect freedom.

Those are two factors which need to be stressed in this eightfold path, or tenfold path, because they show that this eightfold path is what you do to get somewhere. And to get it through insight, through wisdom. But when people use that word “insight” they should really stress the word “in” – actually to see within, to see deep within, to see the source of things. Because so much of what people take to be “insight” is really “ex-sight”, and that’s why it excites you! It’s seeing outside somewhere. And that’s why it sort of stimulates the mind instead of settling it. If it really is true insight it makes you very peaceful and calm. So there’s a difference there and again, the main reason why people don’t get those deep insights is because their mind is not calm enough, not powerful enough to see deeply within themselves. And that’s why traditionally, in Buddhism, to gain that sort of insight we say the Five Hindrances [1] have to be overcome first of all. That’s the whole job of the Eightfold Path, if you like, to overcome the five hindrances, and to get the mind in that sort of state that it’s clear and it’s powerful, and it can discover insight. So the insight is the result of the Eightfold Path – and I’m talking about the big insight now.

And so to overcome those five hindrances that I’ve been talking about, you’ve seen very clearly in the last eight or nine days that there’s something you should know about – the hindrances, their power, and just how sneaky they are sometimes. Just when you think that you’re getting peaceful, sometimes a thought might come up, a desire, a wanting, and that’s a hindrance which stops you getting into deep meditation. Or sometimes a little bit of ill-will towards yourself which manifests as impatience – that’s a form of ill-will. And to see those and hindrances shows you how insidious and difficult are these hindrances to overcome. And to gain insight, all the teachers, all the texts, all say that without abandoning the five hindrances there’s no insight, there’s no wisdom. So that should be one’s preliminary job, to overcome these five hindrances. And the way those five hindrances are overcome is what I’ve been teaching here this week, the Jhanas. Traditionally, they say that where the five hindrances are overcome is called upacara samadhi. They call it “neighborhood concentration”, neighborhood samadhi, where you’re just right next to Jhanas but not fully in them. It’s like the entrance to this hall over here, you have to pass over the entrance, the neighborhood, to come into this room. And also you have to pass over it as you go out. These are upacaras, neighborhoods.

One of the mistakes which people make with understanding insight meditation, is that they think the neighborhood as you go into Jhana is a place where you should do insight. Just stop a bit short of Jhana and try and do insight there. And that is one type of upacara, but that is a very difficult one and very unstable, because you’re not really quite sure whether those five hindrances have been overcome or not. You’re not really sure if you’re in that upacara samadhi where insight can truly happen because those hindrances are extremely sneaky at that stage, they can manifest just so easily. And also if there is a state just before Jhana, because of the way of the mind it’s very unstable, and you can fall back so quickly. And that is why some people misunderstand, or fail to recognise, that there are two upacaras – there is the one on the way in to Jhana and there is the one on the way out of Jhana. In the same way you pass over the threshold of that door on the way in, and also on the way out. And of those two, it’s that upacara samadhi after Jhana which has the qualities of being certain and long-lasting. Having trained yourself in this way, you know what Jhanas are, and you know that state just afterwards is what the texts call the upacara samadhi. And from your experience you will know that state lasts much, much longer, is much more stable, than any upacara samadhi just before you arrive. It’s because when you are experiencing the Jhanas, when you’re right inside them, it’s as if the five hindrances have been completely knocked out and made unconscious. You’ve slugged them, and the longer you stay in that Jhana, the deeper the slug! So much so that when you come out of the Jhanas, they are still knocked out – unconscious, inactive. You’ve beaten them down. And very often if you spend a long time in a Jhana they’re beaten down for a long, long time. And anyone who’s had a very nice meditation, especially a Jhana, will know that the state afterwards, the happiness, the joy, lasts a long time, effortlessly, because you’re full of energy, clarity, power. And that is the state where insight can be found, where insight is made.

You have to be careful, sometimes, of that state after Jhanas, because sometimes the experience is so powerful and so beautiful, and sometimes the hindrances are knocked out for days. Sometimes for days after you get a nice Jhana, you have no desire for things of the world. Even the food on your plate you can take or leave and you don’t really care. And you have no sloth or torpor – you can sit until late in the night, get up early in the morning, you’re just so mindful, perfectly, hour after hour, day after day. There’s no ill-will that can come up: even if a mosquito comes you sort of welcome it – “please come and take some of my blood! Out of compassion for all the other people out there, come on take some!”. You get so much compassion because the mind is so high and full of joy. And sometimes people think that those states are full enlightenment.

You know, I wrote about it in that book “Seeing the Way” [2]. I had a nice meditation one evening and after that I just wasn’t tired at all. When I lay down to sleep I was so mindful that I didn’t really need to sleep. Just laying there on my side watching the breath gave so much happiness, was so peaceful. When I did go off to sleep, it was only for a very short time, and I woke up afterwards and immediately was just so mindful. Not like it was this morning – not “oh, here we go again! What shall we do, where am I?!” – but completely mindful in getting up and going to the hall before three o’clock, before the bell, and sitting meditation there and just going into nice samadhi all morning. It was great. And I thought “at last, this is it, oh great!”. And it’s nice to think you’re enlightened – it’s quite a nice way to start the day!

Some of you who know this story know what happened next… when I went on alms round I was just perfectly mindful, there were no defilements in the mind at all, it was just so clear. Until it came to the meal time. And meals are very good if you’ve got any defilements coming up, especially if it’s the only meal of the day and that’s all you’re going to get. And I was in a monastery in the north-east of Thailand, a very poor monastery away from the cities or towns, and usually we used to get the same meal every day, day after day. It was sticky rice and what they called rotten fish curry. And it was called rotten fish for two reasons – first of all it was fish which was pickled, caught during the rainy season and put in a jar and closed up and left to ferment. So it was like “ripe” fish. And it was also rotten because that was how it tasted! It was really awful stuff – you got sort of used to it but not really used to it. And so you’d have this every day – rotten fish curry with your rice, and that was all you had. But this one day it just happened after I became “enlightened”, somebody made us this pork curry (there was no vegetarian food in those places) as well as the rotten fish curry, and as soon as I saw this I thought “I’m going to have something nice to eat today”. And the abbot (I was second in line), this Thai monk, he took these really big scoops of this pork curry, huge scoops, and put it in his bowl. And I thought that was really greedy, but it didn’t matter because there was plenty left for me. But what he did next was, after taking out two huge scoops for himself (and he didn’t take any of the rotten fish curry – even he didn’t like it!)… he said “well, it’s all the same isn’t it, whatever curry it is, it’s just the four elements” and then he poured all the curries together and mixed them up. And I thought “if you really thought that, then why didn’t you mix them up before you took yours! Now I haven’t got any nice food today”. And I got really angry at this monk, really livid at him, thinking “how can you do this, taking away my nice meal. It’s not every day we get this nice pork curry. And you’re a north-easterner – I’ve come from the West, I’m not used to rotten fish, you should be used to rotten fish. Now you’ve mixed it all up!” And what stopped me from getting more and more angry was the thought “hang on, I’m supposed to be enlightened!” And that really makes you depressed, when you find out that you’re not enlightened after all. That spoiled my whole day!

But that’s what happens sometimes, because for many hours the defilements are just gone, and you’re just so clear and bright and you think “wow, this is it, this is the way it should be”. Perfectly clear and peaceful and light. But it’s not, it’s just samadhi experience. So, be careful sometimes that you don’t come back and say that you’re enlightened because little things like the hindrances will, sooner or later, when they’ve recovered, come up and will play with you again, take you around by the nose.

But the important thing with that upacara samadhi which is after Jhana, that is the time to really get into deep insight, because your mind is powerful. The mind has energy, it has clarity, and the five hindrances aren’t there. This is the time when you can see what you don’t want to see, what you don’t expect to see, because all that wanting and all that expecting has been subdued. And you know it’s been subdued because you’ve gained that Jhana. I think many of you know how expectations and wants are the very barriers which stop you getting those nimittas and entering samadhi. And so by training yourself to subdue those wants and expectations, those desires, they are knocked cold, they disappear, you enter Jhana, and when you come out again they’re still not around. Because there’s no wanting, there’s no expectations, you can see what’s truly there rather than what you see or what you expect to see. That’s where deep insight arises. The expectations are as much a hindrance to Jhanas as they are to insight. That’s why, when insight happens (this is one of the characteristics of it) it’ll always be something which you never expected. Quite different than what you thought it would be. That’s why it’s called an insight – you’re seeing something from a fresh angle, something new, something completely different.

However, there are ways of encouraging those insights to happen, especially after the Jhanas. And the way to encourage them, in the words of the Buddha is to get the Jhanas and then standing on that experience, develop the insights into anicca, Dukkha, anatta. The three characteristics of impermanence, suffering and not-self. “Standing on that experience”, using that experience both as your power source and also as your data to investigate these three areas of reality. And those three areas, again, are impermanence (it’s wider than impermanence – I’ll mention more about anicca), suffering and not-self.

The impermanence, the first thing one can really watch, is the uncertainty of everything. Because one of the meanings of nicca, the opposite to anicca, is something which is certain, which is regular, something you can rely upon. So the opposite means that things which are there will suddenly disappear, unreliable, irregular. And it’s interesting contemplating that word, aniccaunreliable, because how often do we seek for something to rely upon in this world. Some little place of security, something we think is always going to be there for us to come home to, either physically or mentally. Some sort of refuge, inside the mind or inside the world, a place of safety or a thing of security. What anicca is doing is saying that all of “that” is insecure, is insubstantial, is irregular, and you cannot rely upon it. The tendency of the human being is maybe to admit that a lot of the world is unreliable but to seek some sort of secure place, or secure person or secure mind state, which you think is secure and is always going to be there. That’s why some people look for partners in the world, someone you can rely upon, someone who’s always going to be there for you, a soul-mate. But all soul-mates eventually disappear, they go, they too are unreliable, as you find out when you marry one!

But not only that, but people also rely on places and things, the little hide-aways, the nice little houses, the little nests. And even those are unreliable. Eventually they will disappear as well. But we also have the little nests inside of our minds, some little place that we rely upon. But even that, anicca, when it gets in there, reveals that even that is insecure. That’s why anicca, when you see it clearly, is quite frightening. It brings up the feeling of complete insecurity. There’s no place where you can stand. No place where you can sit down. Everything is always changing. And because of the fear which arises when one starts to look at anicca, it means that unless you’ve got the powerful mind-states of Jhanas or post-Jhanas, you’ll never be able to pass through that fear and see through to reality. There’ll always be some part of existence you’ll think is secure, reliable, permanent. And that’s why we aren’t enlightened.

Sometimes we think it’s not very nice to realize insecurity, but it’s wonderful to realize the truth of insecurity for two reasons. One, because when you know you haven’t got a home (in all senses of that word), then you can be like a bird, you can fly everywhere. Every place is a tree where you can rest for a while. You’ll never think that you own that particular tree, that “that’s mine and the other birds should keep out”. You can share. Two, it also means that when you realize that all these things are completely changing, then when they do change, when they do disappear, when things alter, you’re never surprised. You realize that this is actually the truth of things, that their insecurity is actually a freedom. Security is like being in prison, being bonded to something. So after a while, one gets quite a sense of release with insecurity, a sense of being able to fly and being able to go where one wishes rather than being bound down.

And so this is what happens when we look at anicca, it gives us a sense that all this is coming and going, that there’s nothing which is stable, no place that we can rest on. But in particular, the anicca which is going to discover the third aspect of the three characteristics of existence, anatta, that is the anicca which is very difficult to apply. That’s anicca which applies to the one who sees anicca. Sometimes to see the one who’s seeing is just so difficult – it’s like trying to catch an eel, it’s so slithery and slippery. As soon as you catch it it’s slipped away again. Or it’s like a dog trying to catch its tail. The self trying to see the self. And this is why seeing anicca in the doer and the seer is just so hard to do. This is, again, one of the reasons why we can’t do this is because we don’t want to do it, we don’t like to do it, we’d rather not see the insubstantiality of everything. It’s just too frightening, it’s just too challenging, it’s just cutting too deep. So the only way that can actually happen is if after a good meditation, which is just so peaceful, and we’re so happy and joyful, that that happiness and joy overcomes any fear and we can go so deep into insight.

In the same way, and you’ve heard me tell you this before, the only way you can be open to hearing things you don’t want to hear, to criticism for example, is when you’re in a good mood. If you’re in a really good mood and you’re really high, then I can tell you anything which is wrong with you, even personal things, and you don’t mind. That’s why I tell people who are in relationships with husbands and wives, if there’s something very difficult you have to tell your partner, some criticism which you think they might not really take very well, then take them out to dinner, dress up really nicely, take them out to a really nice dinner, give them the very best food, what they really like, and then, when they’re on the last course, when they’re really nice and happy, all soft and smiley, you can tell them anything and they’ll accept it. You can give all sorts of criticism, which is personal or otherwise, and because they’re happy and relaxed, they can listen, they don’t feel challenged. But if you tell them when they’ve just come home from work after a hard day, then “that’s it, I’m calling the lawyers, this is divorce!” This is what happens because when you’re feeling happy and when you’re feeling relaxed, you’re more open to seeing or hearing what you don’t want to hear or see.

In the same way, when you’ve had a good meditation, everything’s nice and peaceful, you’ve got so much happiness, then you’re much more open to seeing those insights which you would normally never allow yourself to contemplate. There’s no-one here. Life is suffering. Everything is impermanent. Those are challenging. Take the suffering of life. This goes completely against the grain. “Life is beautiful. Life is a bowl of cherries. Life is out there for you to enjoy. Go out and experience. If you can’t actually go there, then get a video on it”. There’s so many ways to enjoy yourself in this world – they’ve even got virtual reality now. Soon, you’ll be able to get virtual Jhanas! Just put on this little mask, push a button, and all these beautiful nimittas will come up and lead you into virtual Jhanas! So you don’t have to sit on the floor and waste all these nine or ten days, just do it in half an hour at a virtual reality store. I’m sure that someone will try that one of these days. But that’s not the way it works. We’d like to have it the easy way, but sometimes it takes a lot of giving up and letting go. But actually to see suffering is to see something that, by its very nature, we don’t want to see.

I was talking about perceptions the other day, actually right throughout the retreat. There was a very fascinating experiment done, I think it was at Harvard, to examine the way the mind perceives things, where they flashed images up on the screen. They got a few volunteer students to sit and see what was going on, with a notepad by their side. First of all they flashed these images up so fast that there wasn’t really time to understand them – they were just a flash on the screen. And they asked these students to write down what they perceived. And all they could see was, like, a flash of light – that’s all. Then they increased the exposure on the screen, from one-hundredth of a second to, say, two-hundredths of a second. They still only saw a flash. And they kept on increasing the time of exposure on the screen incrementally until there was a flash there and they could catch something, they could perceive something, then they could write down what it was. And they kept on increasing it until they could see it more clearly and write down what it was. Some very interesting things happened when they kept on increasing the exposure more and more and more. At a very early exposure length, when they thought they understood what was there, they continued writing the same thing, kept on seeing it in exactly the same way. One example was when the actual photograph was a bicycle on the stairs going up to one of the lecture halls. One of the students perceived it as a ship. It’s quite easy to do this because it was only shown very quickly, and perception just grasps something and they said it was a ship. The interesting thing was that as the exposure time was increased, incrementally, he still said it was a ship. And at times, when every person who was exposed at that particular length would say it’s a bicycle on the stairs, they would still see it as a ship. The old perceptions had imprinted themselves on the mind they actually saw that image according to their old views. And it took them a really long exposure on the screen to change their old ideas and say “it’s not really a ship, it’s a bicycle on the steps going to a lecture hall”.

What was interesting there was how, through the perceptions that we have, we form these really strong views, which make us see the whole world to conform to those views, even though they’re completely wrong. That’s why it’s so difficult to catch the illusions of self, the illusions of suffering, the illusions of anicca. We need to have that strong exposure, not just for a second but for long periods of time, to see that we’ve been seeing it in the wrong way. It’s not a ship after all, it’s just a bicycle on the steps. It’s not a self after all, it’s just a process. Life is not such a bowl of cherries, life is a bowl of rotten eggs!

And the other interesting thing about this experiment, is that they found that images which were repulsive, which were abhorrent, took people much longer exposures to see them as they really are. One of the images they showed on the screen was of two copulating dogs. And that took the longest of all the images for them to figure out what it really was. The reason was because they didn’t want to see that – that was repulsive. If it had been an image of, like, a beautiful model, they would have seen that in a few seconds. But they didn’t want to see it and therefore they didn’t want to see it. And that was really fascinating because that was reinforcing what the Buddha’s been saying for, like, twenty five centuries. That with the hindrances operating, we only see what we want to see. We don’t see what’s real. And sometimes the exposure need to be so long and right in front of our face before we truly admit what’s going on in the world.

But with suffering, this is the problem – we don’t want to see suffering, therefore we don’t see it. We live in a fantasy world, that life is happy, that you get married and you’re happy ever after. You get the perfect relationship. I remember one lady kept on telling me, no matter what I said to her about Buddhism, she said “I know he’s out there somewhere – the perfect man for me. It’s just that I have not met him yet. I don’t know where he is, but I know he’s out there somewhere”. And she was in her late forties and she still said stupid things! People live in fantasy land most of the time – not real at all. Or the people that think that if you get the right medicines then you never need to die, and that aging is something that is healable, curable, something which is not necessary. All these ideas, the fantasies which people have, are just not being real.

So when we start looking at the truth of Dukkha, we have to be very courageous to see that. Not just courageous, but we have to be very sneaky as well. And again, this is why we do something like the Jhana meditations, because we feel so happy, so peaceful (like the husband or wife who’s been taken out by their partner to a beautiful dinner), and the feeling’s so rested, so at peace, that we’re actually open to seeing or hearing what we don’t want to hear, what we didn’t want to see. That’s how you sneak up on Dukkha, and you can finally accept it. There’s one particular area of Dukkha which we don’t want to see – at least we think that we’re happy. That’s why when you go home from this retreat, doesn’t matter how much suffering you have on a retreat, when you go home again you say it was really worthwhile, it was really good. Because you’d look like such a fool if you said it was really terrible, full of suffering, that you spent all this money on this. Even on retreats where you have to go through a lot of physical pain, you get conned into saying that it was a lot of pain but that you discovered something wonderful. If you didn’t say that you’d be really embarrassed that you’d been wasting this time.

It’s the same as when you go on holiday. Everyone who goes on holiday, when they come back afterwards and their friends ask “how was it?”, they say they had a wonderful time. Even though you’re lying through your teeth. Even though you had a terrible time. Because it makes you sound so foolish if you say you had a terrible time going through customs, the hotel was rotten, it rained all the time, that you had arguments with the person you went with… you’d feel such a fool! And also it’s just not done, it’s not our custom. Everyone knows that when you come back from a holiday you say you had a really wonderful time. Everyone knows that you write a postcard to your friends saying “having a wonderful time, wish you were here”. No-one says “having a rotten time, wish I was back home!” So sometimes just be careful of the ways that we lie.

We don’t face reality because of our social conditioning. It’s the same as if you go to a funeral. I’ve been giving funeral services for a long time. Even for me, it took many years to get up the courage to tell a joke at a funeral service. You know that I like telling jokes. Because it’s not done to tell jokes at funeral services. You can do it at some other time, any other time, but the one time you’re not meant to tell a joke is when there’s a stiff in the coffin! It’s being disrespectful, isn’t it? But actually when I did get the courage to do it, all the people said “Thank you so much. It made us feel good and the person who died was always telling jokes and they would have really appreciated that one.” I’m sure I could hear the coffin rattling as they were laughing!

But we have these taboos which are incredibly difficult to break. One of those taboos is facing up to that life is suffering. That’s a taboo that people don’t want to recognise. And that’s why you have to creep up on it and find that all this world is all suffering. You know the taboo of looking at a sunset or beautiful flower and, it’s really challenging to say that all flowers, even the most beautiful flower, is suffering. People think you’re just crazy or you’re weird, or you’ve been a monk too long, and you should come back into the real world! It’s a taboo – flowers are beautiful, everyone knows that. The sunset is so wonderful, the mountains, the forests…

To challenge that is very difficult to do. So this is where you do need to have that ability to go against preconceived notions which go so deep inside of you, you wouldn’t believe just how deeply they are embedded in you. And the most deeply embedded notion is not the idea that “life is happiness”, but that “you are”. That’s the deepest notion which is the hardest one to eradicate, the anatta, that “I am”. And that view is just so tricky, so slippery, it’s just like trying to shoot a bird a million miles away through the eye with an arrow. It’s just so tricky to see this self, this “me”. And this is why the Buddha gave, not just the Jhanas to give the mind power, and to be able to see what it doesn’t want to see, but he also gave the four satipatthanas, as a way of not wasting time, to be able to focus on the four areas where the illusion of self really hangs out. Because there’s many places where you might try to look for the illusion of self, but the four main areas are the rupa, your body, vedana, the feelings, citta, the mind which knows, and the mental objects, dhamma, especially the doer, will. Those are the four areas. And so, having heard a teaching like the satipatthana, having practiced the Eightfold Path, when the mind is in Jhanas and it comes out afterwards see if you can remember to employ the satipatthana, especially for one purpose and one purpose only: not to see anicca, but to see anatta, not-self. That is the deepest, most fundamental block which is stopping you from being enlightened, which stops you being free.

One of the ways which I practice myself, and teach other people to practice, is to ask yourself a question. Not “is there a self?”, that’s just too philosophical. But to ask yourself: –“What do I take to be my self? Who do I think I am? Who do I perceive I am? What is this “me” I assume to exist?” When you ask that question, whatever comes up as an answer, challenge it. Am I this body? I look in the mirror each morning and smile “there I am again”. Is that me, this body? Sometimes we’re very sophisticated intellectually and we think “of course I’m not my body”. On the thought level we might say that, but when we get sick or we’re dying we realize that that’s just superficial wisdom. It hasn’t gone deep enough. We are still attached to our body. We still think it’s ours.

The Buddha gave a test to see if you really are attached to these things, whether you think they’re “mine”. This is a story of when he was walking with some monks in the Jeta Grove and he pointed out some twigs and leaves on the ground and he said “Monks, what would happen, how would you feel if some people came along and collected all these twigs and leaves and put them into a big heap, and then set fire to them all? And then once the fire had died down, they took all the ashes and threw them to the four winds until they were completely dispersed. What would your reaction be if they did that?” And the monks said “Nothing, because these things aren’t ours, they don’t belong to us. They’re just sticks and leaves, that’s all”. “Very good”, said the Buddha, “Now monks, what would happen if the lay people took all of you and put you in a heap and set you on fire, until you’re just ashes, and then threw those ashes to the four winds, would you be upset? Would you be really worried?” And according to the texts, I don’t know if they really meant this but they certainly knew the right answer, the monks replied “No, no, we wouldn’t be at all worried!” And the Buddha asked “Why is that monks?” And they said “Because this body isn’t ours, it’s nothing to do with us, it’s not me or mine.”

Now that’s a test to see if you really see this body as a self, whether you’re willing to let it go or not. That’s why, when we say, look at the body in the four satipatthanas, don’t run over that too quickly, don’t just say “I’ve done that one already, I know this body isn’t me or mine, it’s just bones, it’s just flesh, I’ve seen that in the documentaries, I’ve seen that in the photographs.” Be careful, because you’ve been living with this body so closely for so many years, there’s a little sneaky attachment which has gotten in there, and you really think that this is you. And that gets challenged through old-age, sickness and death. And if you tremble at sickness or pain, if you tremble at the thought of old-age or death, you still need to do some more body contemplation.

So, when a big Jhana happens, and then afterwards, say “what do I take myself to be?” Look at this body and see those little attachments, even though they might be stupid, they were something that you could not see because you did not want to see it. And eradicate, completely, the idea that the body is yours or you. It’s just nature, it just belongs to nature, you’ve got nothing much to do with it.

The second thing, about vedana, the sensations, don’t take them too lightly. It’s just as obvious that this isn’t me. Every time you have happiness, or pain, do you automatically think “this is my happiness, this is me feeling it”? If you do, again you haven’t seen the truth of anatta. After Jhanas, look closely at this whole play of vedana, and you see it’s just like the play of light and shadows, cast by the trees and the leaves. Where there’s light there’s no shadow, where there’s shadow there’s no light. As the leaves move in the wind, as the sun goes over, what was light is now shadow and what is shadow is now light. What is pain is now pleasure. What was beauty is now ugliness, what was ugliness is now beauty. This is the play of vedana, it’s no more than that. Seeing that means, if you see it fully through the power of Jhanas, that you’ve done the second satipatthana and you are completely detached. Detached means that there is no-one holding on to the vedana, the pleasure or pain.

Remember, a lot of people think that attachment is all about what’s out there. The cause of attachment is not so much what’s out there, it’s what’s holding on inside. The claw, I call it. It’s a claw inside which keeps on going outside into the world and attaching to particular things. No matter how many times you put things down, you let go, and let go and let go, you’ll never be able to end attaching until you see that claw and cut it off. It’s the claw which needs to be looked at, seen, and eradicated. That’s the only way to stop attaching once and for all. And that claw is the illusion that all these things belong to us, especially vedana. To see that this is just the play of nature. In the same way that a person who understands why there is light and why there is shadow under a tree realizes that it’s nothing to do with them. They leave the light and shadow alone, knowing that if they prefer one or the other then soon it will change. If you prefer suffering or if you prefer happiness, it doesn’t matter, it’ll just change and then go it’ll go back again. Up and down, coming and going, that’s pleasure and pain in life. So after the Jhana, you do the second satipatthana, you investigate this vedana, seeing it as it truly is, not as you want it to be, realizing it’s completely out of your control no matter how wise, skilful or powerful you are. The idea of getting just pleasant vedana and avoiding the unpleasant, you see, is a complete impossibility, it goes against nature, it cannot be done. So you give up, you let go.

Also, one of the deeper places where a person thinks they exist (and I’ve already mentioned this) is the will. And that’s part of the fourth satipatthana, the doer, the chooser. That’s a very hard thing to see. You can see its results, with all of the controlling, the disturbing, which has been going on for the last nine days, caused by this thing – the doer. But even so, it’s so hard to give this thing up. Even so, that you know that letting go is a way into Jhana, but you can’t somehow achieve that letting go, you can’t do the letting go. And once I describe it that way it’s obvious why you can’t “do” the letting go… you have to allow it to happen. The biggest problem that people have with the Jhanas is that they try and “do” it, they try and control it, they try and will it, they try and steer their vehicle into a Jhana. You’ve got to have your hands completely off the steering wheel. In fact, you’ve got to dismantle the steering wheel before you get into Jhanas. There’s an entry fee to Jhanas, something you have to give up at the door, and that’s “you”. A lot of people would like to go into Jhanas but they’d like to be there at the same time. They want to take the doer in there, to have control. And that’s why they can’t get in. That’s why it takes “something” to get into a Jhana. You see the beautiful Jhana in there but you want to take “you” with you. And you can’t. So after a while, you leave “you” outside and go in and have fun. Then you realize just how “you”, the doer, has been such a burden, such a terrible companion for you, causing all kinds of pain and suffering. That’s what the Buddha called “the house-builder”.

Once you’ve been in a Jhana you’ll never trust this doer so much again. You never trust that within you which is, even now, trying to do something, think something, say something, control something. That doer, to see that is not you, is completely caused, arises and passes away according to natural laws,. If you can see that then you’ve got a very powerful insight. Half, fifty percent, of the illusion of self is then completely gone, and life becomes so much easier. You can flow with things rather than always controlling them, because you haven’t got faith in the doer any more. You can let go.

The last place, which is hard for a person to see, is the consciousness itself, the mind. This mind which a lot of people talk about, which I talk about a lot, to actually see it in its purity is very, very difficult. You see it in Jhanas. What’s important after having a Jhana is having known what the citta is, the mind. What the Buddha talked so much about in the suttas, having seen that then to apply the satipatthana. Reflect on the mind and ask yourself “is this me?” That which knows, that which is hearing this, which feels all the aches and pains in the body, which sees the sights around, which sees the flowers and the sunsets, that which sees and experiences. “Is that what I take to be me?” And look at this whole process of consciousness, the screen on which experience is played out. Like the television simile which I gave yesterday. A television is a screen on which all these images from all these channels are played out. When we’re looking at the images we cannot really be noticing the screen. When it’s just images there, the screen has disappeared. We’re just focusing on the images. When the five senses are playing around, that’s all we see. We cannot see the screen on which all these images are being played out.

In Jhanas, you see the screen, and also you start to see the screen dismantle itself. The screen which we call consciousness begins to disappear. Higher and higher in the Jhanas, more of the screen goes, until in the last of the Jhanas, nirodha – cessation, is the cessation of the screen. Consciousness is now gone. To see the consciousness going is a very powerful experience. According to the suttas, anyone who experiences that state, the cessation of consciousness through these Jhanas (I don’t mean the cessation of consciousness through going to sleep at night!), when you emerge from that state you’re either a non-returner or a fully-enlightened Arahat. There are only those two possibilities. Because having see the cessation of consciousness itself, you will never, ever, it’s impossible, to be able to take that as a self, as a me. You’ve seen that thing, the thing we were talking about yesterday, the claw (that’s a good simile which I should have mentioned yesterday… you know the “thing” in the Addam’s family, the hand, always grabbing onto things? That’s attachment. That thing is attachment), consciousness or the doer, is not you, it cannot be. And the last citadel of the illusion of self is broken into, seen to be empty, and then you know that that which you took to be a self for so long was just an empty process, that’s all.

That insight into anatta is the insight which arises in a stream-winner, entering the stream. It’s the insight which sees that you have taken something to be the self, something to be me or mine for so many years, and you just could not see it before but now you can. That’s what insight is. And again that insight is very beautiful and wonderful, because once you realize that there’s no-one here then the whole idea of nibbana being just a flame going out, never scares you any more. Instead of being something completely stupid and awful, something you’re not really interested in at all… because after all, what’s the point of being enlightened if you’re not there to enjoy it? What’s the point of just snuffing out and going? There’s too many things to do in the world! Too many things to achieve, too many things to experience. But the idea of nibbana as just snuffing out, going out, only makes sense and become attractive, becomes the obvious thing, only when one sees the truth of not-self. There’s no-one here anyway. That which you take to be you is just an illusion. Once you see that then that is the insight, the powerful deep insight, upon which all the subsequent insights which lead to the higher states of enlightenment are based. This is what one should be doing, this is the purpose of Jhanas, the purpose of all those reflections.

To ask yourself, “What do I take to be me? Who do I think I am? What do I perceive, think and view of myself?” in terms of the four satipatthanas. The afterwards you become enlightened. And if you think, those people have had happiness or Jhanas or nimittas during this retreat, if you think that’s happiness, then wait until you get into a nice, powerful, enlightenment insight. That’s much more happiness. So the best is yet to come.

So that’s insight, and what’s actually happening, through the factors of the Eightfold Path you get samma-nyana, the correct deep insights, and samma-vimutti, freedom.

Ajahn Brahmavamso
Perth, April 1999

I was just thinking that it would be good for me to put down in writing some sort of timeline for the way things have happened for me since starting meditation. Often times people read this journal and don’t understand why I have a girlfriend (wife) and live with her here in Thailand – aren’t I close to enlightenment? Do I need a girlfriend? Do I need sex? This might clear it up a bit. The experiences started a long time ago. I quit meditating for years and then recently have begun again. Having a girlfriend or not having a girlfriend is neither here nor there. I can have one. I may not have one. No matter. If tomorrow we go our separate ways, no matter… I’ve had such a wonderful experience knowing her and we’ve had great times… but if she is here – wonderful. If not – it’s not devastating.

Whether I’m close to enlightenment is anyone’s guess. I stopped guessing as I don’t care anymore. Enlightenment, if it’s to be – will probably not be earth shattering. I’ve seen a lot already. I’ve had glimpses of it. It will likely be anticlimactic and won’t matter when it happens.

Anyway – here is a timeline of things as they occurred. Dates are there if I can remember them. It does go in succession earliest events to most recent.

1995 Read some books by Jiddu Krishnamurti, Thich Nhat Hanh, a few Zen books.

1995 December Went to visit wife’s family in Gibson City, Illinois. She’s Thai. Her dad and mother were born and raised in Thailand and emmigrated to USA so he could become a surgeon – which he did. He showed me meditation, introduced me to Forest Meditation ways, sitting meditation, Jack Kornfield books, Buddhadassa Bhikku, Ajahn Chah, and S.N. Goenka’s book about Vipassana Meditation. We meditated a few times and he taught me basics of Anapanasati.

1996 After reading Vipassana Meditation book by S.N. Goenka I started to sit regularly for 15-30 minutes on the floor in a half lotus position.

During 10 months of this I was able to find various levels of concentration… by focusing on the breath. At times I could concentrate on 100 breaths or whatever number I chose. When Igot tot that point I changed the meditation to focus on what arose – whatever sensory objects occurred. Sometimes it was breath, sometimes pain, sometimes there was nothing at all – it felt as if I had died or the ego had died completely.

I had many weird experiences during these months – and no teacher. I wasn’t Buddhist. I wasn’t anything. I was a guy that was just trying meditation by himself – along the lines of what the Buddha did.

I became a bit concerned by the bizarre experiences. They were fantastic and bizarre and I didn’t know – was I becoming mentally unstable – or was this natural? Normal? I looked for answers from monks living in the USA at Thai Buddhist temples (Theravadan monks) and many other resources. Nothing explained the depth of my experiences. I could find nothing written about the detailed experiences of jhana and other things that were going on inside me.

Scared I was “losing my mind” – which I was, but in a good way I found out later – I abandoned all meditation practice and ran AWAY from it. I read nothing. I didn’t sit anymore. I practiced no mindfulness.

Immediately the process that used to happen ONLY during meditation sessions began happening at any time I was awake. I’d be walking in the park, driving a car, working, whatever – and I’d slip into a state of pure experience – where the mind was absent. It stopped. There was no naming of anything – just pure experience of things as they were. The process seemed to be going on by itself. The “Letting go” or running from the process seemed to have started it in earnest – much more intense than it was before. This went on for months – well, years – but for months very often a few times a day down to it’s present level of once every couple days on average.

1997-2004 No meditation or mindfulness practice. The process still came sometimes and I didn’t push it away – but I didn’t encourage it – I just ignored it and let it happen and go away. It came and went over the years as it did without any input or reaction from me.

2004. I finally found SantiKaro – an ex-Buddhist monk that told me he thought my experiences sounded like Jhana. They were normal experiences. I was amazed that the experiences were normal. I meditated a couple times to see – could the mind easily stop like before as I sat? It did. It came very easily compared to when I first started to meditate so many years ago.

2004 November I moved to Thailand. I met with some senior monks who told me the experiences were jhana and that I could continue to practice with them at the temple. I declined. I started meditating a little bit – nothing regular – but if the process came to me – I’d sit and watch what happened, not attaching to it – just watch. Sometimes I’d sit and focus on breath. When the mind calmed, then stopped I’d watch other sense objects – pain, heat, thought if it popped up, sounds, etc.

2007 I was living near a temple in Krabi Thailand that had a long flight of stairs to walk up. So, I’d walk up for exercise a couple times a week. Then daily. Sometimes I’d meditate at the top. I began having some intense experiences, one of which was a period of over 6 hours of no thought – no ego – no emotion – no drives – no ambition – no anything… It occured at the top of the mountain – and lasted the whole day and evening. I’ve detailed it here on the journal somewhere.

Recently (2008) when I’ve sat to meditate I notice that there is no ‘watcher’ to watch the breath at all. To watch the breath – to focus on it requires something that isn’t inside anymore. It’s gone for some reason. There is none of the usual thing that watches breath when there is silence.

When there’s silence now – when I let the mind stop – and just watch – there is nothing watching. There is just silence – the most profound silence. Stillness.

It’s as if I’m in that state – where there is no time, no wanting, no being, no happiness or unhappiness – no dichotomy. Nothing is running through the mind filter – it’s just pure. Nothing is changed by the mind – just experienced as it comes up and goes away… rising and falling of different objects are noticed…

That can go on as long as I let it – but usually I just sit 30 minutes or so and then get up and do whatever I felt like doing.

That’s the state I’m in now. While the mind is working – doing things during the day – it is active and does them. When I stop mind candy coming in – music, computer, doing something – there is absolute stillness of the mind immediately. It’s quite odd!

I’ve been thinking to get a bicycle and roam around to temples here during the day and sit when I felt like it and be mindful of the stillness the rest of the time. I’d like to keep a journal of some sort – but usually when I get in any kind of regular practice the desire to keep a journal of any sort disappears quickly. There’s just no motivation in that state to be recording anything – to be doing anything – what is it worth? What is the purpose? Now I can see the purpose – to share it – but, in that state – when it’s so silent and any doing – is not worth it – it’s impossible to contradict it and record something consistently.

I went for months without writing in my journal after about 5 months of meditation because the urge to record disappeared. I think the same would happen this time.

😛

So – as it is today I’ll use the restroom and eat my bananas, drink my instant coffee and walk up the temple steps. That’s what’s planned. If it happens – great. If not – no matter.

Not sure if there will be any decision to go mobile and live at the temples for a while, guess we’ll see what happens. There’s no feeling that I need to. Yet no feeling that I need to continue in this way – working on internet and going about life in the way I have for the past year either. Sometimes I think that this might be a good chance to let it all go for a few months and see what occurs. Sometimes I think – no matter, can do that anywhere.

Sometimes I think – and sometimes I don’t.

What if I was just quiet for an entire day? 2-weeks? 10 months?

Meditation Experiences Timeline 4-21-08

I was just thinking that it would be good for me to put down in writing some sort of timeline for the way things have happened for me since starting meditation. Often times people read this journal and don’t understand why I have a girlfriend (wife) and live with her here in Thailand – aren’t I close to enlightenment? Do I need a girlfriend? Do I need sex? This might clear it up a bit. The experiences started a long time ago. I quit meditating for years and then recently have begun again. Having a girlfriend or not having a girlfriend is neither here nor there. I can have one. I may not have one. No matter. If tomorrow we go our separate ways, no matter… I’ve had such a wonderful experience knowing her and we’ve had great times… but if she is here – wonderful. If not – it’s not devastating.

Whether I’m close to enlightenment is anyone’s guess. I stopped guessing as I don’t care anymore. Enlightenment, if it’s to be – will probably not be earth shattering. I’ve seen a lot already. I’ve had glimpses of it. It will likely be anticlimactic and won’t matter when it happens.

Anyway – here is a timeline of things as they occurred. Dates are there if I can remember them. It does go in succession earliest events to most recent.

1995 Read some books by Jiddu Krishnamurti, Thich Nhat Hanh, a few Zen books.

1995 December Went to visit wife’s family in Gibson City, Illinois. She’s Thai. Her dad and mother were born and raised in Thailand and emmigrated to USA so he could become a surgeon – which he did. He showed me meditation, introduced me to Forest Meditation ways, sitting meditation, Jack Kornfield books, Buddhadassa Bhikku, Ajahn Chah, and S.N. Goenka’s book about Vipassana Meditation. We meditated a few times and he taught me basics of Anapanasati.

1996 After reading Vipassana Meditation book by S.N. Goenka I started to sit regularly for 15-30 minutes on the floor in a half lotus position.

During 10 months of this I was able to find various levels of concentration… by focusing on the breath. At times I could concentrate on 100 breaths or whatever number I chose. When I got tot that point I changed the meditation to focus on what arose – whatever sensory objects occurred. Sometimes it was breath, sometimes pain, sometimes there was nothing at all – it felt as if I had died or the ego had died completely.

I had many weird experiences during these months – and no teacher. I wasn’t Buddhist. I wasn’t anything. I was a guy that was just trying meditation by himself – along the lines of what the Buddha did. I didn’t have any ideas about becoming enlightened or progressing far down the path toward nirvana… I sat mostly to relax my mind from stressful days working.

I became a bit concerned by the bizarre experiences. They were fantastic and bizarre and I didn’t know – was I becoming mentally unstable – or was this natural? Normal? I looked for answers from monks living in the USA at Thai Buddhist temples (Theravadan monks) and many other resources. Nothing explained the depth of my experiences. I could find nothing written about the detailed experiences of jhana and other things that were going on inside me.

Scared I was “losing my mind” – which I was, but in a good way I found out later – I abandoned all meditation practice and ran AWAY from it. I read nothing. I didn’t sit anymore. I practiced no mindfulness.

Immediately the process that used to happen ONLY during meditation sessions began happening at any time I was awake. I’d be walking in the park, driving a car, working, whatever – and I’d slip into a state of pure experience – where the mind was absent. It stopped. There was no naming of anything – just pure experience of things as they were. The process seemed to be going on by itself. The “Letting go” or running from the process seemed to have started it in earnest – much more intense than it was before. This went on for months – well, years – but for months very often a few times a day down to it’s present level of once every couple days on average.

1997-2004 No meditation or mindfulness practice. Well, very, very little. I was afraid of it. The process still came sometimes and I didn’t push it away – but I didn’t encourage it – I just ignored it and let it happen and go away. It came and went over the years as it did without any input or reaction from me.

2004. I finally found Santikaro – an ex-Buddhist monk that told me he thought my experiences sounded like Jhana. They were normal experiences. I was amazed that the experiences were normal. I meditated a couple times to see – could the mind easily stop like before as I sat? It did. It came very easily compared to when I first started to meditate so many years ago.

2004 November I moved to Thailand. I met with some senior monks who told me the experiences were jhana and that I could continue to practice with them at the temple. I declined. I started meditating a little bit – nothing regular – but if the process came to me – I’d sit and watch what happened, not attaching to it – just watch. Sometimes I’d sit and focus on breath. When the mind calmed, then stopped I’d watch other sense objects – pain, heat, thought if it popped up, sounds, etc.

2005 I visited Wat Pah Nanachat and spoke with the abbot of the temple who told me the experiences I had sounded like jhana – and why don’t I stay at Wat Pah as long as I like?

2007 I was living near a temple in Krabi Thailand that had a long flight of stairs to walk up. So, I’d walk up for exercise a couple times a week. Then daily. Sometimes I’d meditate at the top. I began having some intense experiences, one of which was a period of over 6 hours of no thought – no ego – no emotion – no drives – no ambition – no anything… It occured at the top of the mountain – and lasted the whole day and evening. I’ve detailed it here on the journal somewhere.

Recently (2008) when I’ve sat to meditate I notice that there is no ‘watcher’ to watch the breath at all. To watch the breath – to focus on it requires something that isn’t inside anymore. It’s gone for some reason. There is none of the usual thing that watches breath when there is silence.

When there’s silence now – when I let the mind stop – and just watch – there is nothing watching. There is just silence – the most profound silence. Stillness.

It’s as if I’m in that state – where there is no time, no wanting, no being, no happiness or unhappiness – no dichotomy. Nothing is running through the mind filter – it’s just pure. Nothing is changed by the mind – just experienced as it comes up and goes away… rising and falling of different objects are noticed…

That can go on as long as I let it – but usually I just sit 30 minutes or so and then get up and do whatever I felt like doing.

That’s the state I’m in now. While the mind is working – doing things during the day – it is active and does them. When I stop mind candy coming in – music, computer, doing something – there is absolute stillness of the mind immediately. It’s quite odd!

I’ve been thinking to get a bicycle and roam around to temples here during the day and sit when I felt like it and be mindful of the stillness the rest of the time. I’d like to keep a journal of some sort – but usually when I get in any kind of regular practice the desire to keep a journal of any sort disappears quickly. There’s just no motivation in that state to be recording anything – to be doing anything – what is it worth? What is the purpose? Now I can see the purpose – to share it – but, in that state – when it’s so silent and any doing – is not worth it – it’s impossible to contradict it and record something consistently.

I went for months without writing in my journal after about 5 months of meditation because the urge to record disappeared. I think the same would happen this time.

😛

So – as it is today I’ll use the restroom and eat my bananas, drink my instant coffee and walk up the temple steps. That’s what’s planned. If it happens – great. If not – no matter.

Not sure if there will be any decision to go mobile and live at the temples for a while, guess we’ll see what happens. There’s no feeling that I need to. Yet no feeling that I need to continue in this way – working on internet and going about life in the way I have for the past year either. Sometimes I think that this might be a good chance to let it all go for a few months and see what occurs. Sometimes I think – no matter, can do that anywhere.

Sometimes I think – and sometimes I don’t.

What if I was just quiet for an entire day? 2-weeks? 10 months?

No Mind – Perception Shift 4-11-09

I sat the other evening (4/11). It was about 8pm and I had no motivation to do anything else. Not that I couldn’t have found something – but from the inside -there was nothing pushing me to ‘do’ anything. The mind was empty of ‘me’ so I just sat down in the back of the apartment. It was warm, but I wouldn’t be moving so I thought – good enough.

I know I’ve explained this before – but perhaps you haven’t read it before here. I don’t meditate the way I did when I first started to sit and watch the breath. I’m in a different place now. The mind just goes naturally clear without the ‘me’. If I watch the breath – I can watch it for 10-20 breaths in complete awareness, and it’s the same as it was on breath 1. There’s nothing different, there is no point of concentration… there is no jhana that starts from that like it used to in the past.

The absense of thought is already there. It’s always there when I’m quiet now. When I stop the radio, the doing, the few thoughts on the surface of the mind that exist throughout the day… there is a stillness. It’s as if I’m in the moment – without ego and without self – without thought at all.

So, now when I sit – there’s no point to focus on the breath – and forcing my’self’ to do it seems counterproductive because it forces there to be some ‘self’ that does the focusing. Without the intense focus on the breath – there is no self at all. Even when I force myself to focus the ‘self’ comes and goes in very brief fractions of a second. It’s like it’s not able to show up for more than a tiny portion of a second. If you look back at the journal entry for 9/3 – it was happening there too. It has happened on and off for a while, but now it appears to be changed for now anyway.

So it seems like the whole meditation has changed then – what is the point of creating self by focusing on breath?

No point I think – so I don’t bother anymore. I just sit and experience things… sounds mostly. It’s as if the mind is new and is hearing things for the first time – every time. I could hear a chicken squawk and then hear it again 4 seconds later – it isn’t recognized as the same chicken or even as a chicken at all. It’s experienced newly – each time. Same with dogs barking, cars, horns, bells, people talking, music, etc.

Sometimes there might be a pain in the foot or the back or somewhere as I sit. The pain just goes on… it isn’t seen as negative. Not as positive. It’s just a feeling. Eventually it drifts away altogether.

So as I sat… it seemed there was really no point to sitting except that it was a way to continue the thoughtless state – experiencing things as new. I just continued to sit – not thinking anything about it – just observing when the thought arose. Then it went away when I let it go…

After 30 minutes or so there was a change in the state… there began to be an expansion that was felt in the head – in the mind – the perception?  It began to get very loose there – and open, vast. It was like that for a little while. I just experienced it, no thoughts came about it – I just sat.

There was then a movement from what was – into something else. Impossible to describe… It was as if there was a change starting – and moving toward a different state. There was some tension about it – there was some resistance and some energy toward making the change though I did nothing myself to move toward it or away from it. I just experienced it.

Like so many experiences during meditation – it just seemed to move on it’s own. By itself. Sounds strange I know, but there is no ‘doing’ by me. By letting go of every experience, the experiences continue… on their own – on whatever schedule they’re on. In fact, if I tried to push it more – to move it – or help it along – the experience either disappears, stops, or goes into a pause where it doesn’t move anymore – just pauses. If I then let go of whatever I was ‘do’-ing it may continue, or it may just fade away. No telling what will happen really.

So it went on a bit and there was a point where it felt like something was moving inside that was at an angle to the perspective of mind I usually have. How could I explain…?

You know, your normal perception of self – of reality is straight ahead. The “you” is looking straight ahead straight out from your eyes – your face. Your perspective is straight out from your eyes and in this orientation. It’s always felt like that, it never changes. If your head turns to the left – your perspective also moves with it and moves straight out in a line directly in front of your face. I’ve never realized it before because I’ve never known anything different from this perspective except during meditation where I’ve lost all perspective and felt as if I was all that is… (see experience #4 video >

But, it was changing. It was as if the orientation inside was shifting and was at an angle at that point. It was twisting to the left…  if that makes any sense. The head was straight. The body was all, facing straight. Yet, something inside was twisting left and distorting the original perspective to be facing at an angle at times. It made the perspective – the one I, and I assume that everyone has – seem less real then. Is it false? Is our perspective only straight ahead because we attach so strongly to the idea that our eyes, our bodies are the “me”? Wherever we face – that must be where we are focused – where our orientation is…

This became distorted, and less solid. Less tangible than it was before. Less real. Less true.

So I continued to sit for a while as the process played around, distorting my perspective of things. After 10 minutes it quieted down and I came back into regular consciousness and stood up after another 5 minutes.

As usual there is no comprehension of what is going on – as it’s going on. There is no analyzation. There is no emotion about what is happening – it’s just experienced. Only afterward do I, to some degree say to myself – what in the world was that? That was odd. That was different from what I’ve experienced before. I get a bit excited about it then – knowing it was an experience I hadn’t had before. But, during the actual experience – if any emotion comes up – the state disappears or goes into pause – maybe to continue once the emotion is gone, or maybe it just fades away completely. Emotion, attachment to the states – whatever they are – leads to a pause in the state. It might lead to a fading away and loss of it entirely. When the state is actually going on – it’s best to let go of any fascination with it that might pop up.

For me now – there isn’t any fascination with any state that happens, as it happens. None really. This appears to be a ‘good thing’ as the process just comes and goes at will and isn’t affected by anything that I know of.

Does anyone understand this? Has anyone experienced something like this?

Mind Stops… Hiccups Too! 4-9-08

This morning I was anxious to eat breakfast. I had kow pad gai (skinless chicken breast over jasmine rice). It also comes with a baggie of chicken broth with scallions and black pepper. Really delicious and it’s my usual breakfast here 20/30 days each month.

I developed the hiccups. They were strong. I sat through it for a minute thinking they’d go away. This seemed like a strong case of them because they didn’t slow down or stop. I tried an experiment – just let it go – clear the mind… thought stopped and I was just experiencing an empty mind.

The hiccups stopped. I ate my breakfast in comfort!

Strange that the mind would have something to do with hiccups as I’d think it was a physical reaction to something – involuntary. Well, it is involuntary. I guess I thought there was no way we could control them voluntarily. It will take another couple tries to confirm that it wasn’t just good timing and the hiccups would have stopped at that time anyway, but interesting.

Other than that I’ve been experience brief periods without thought that just come and other times when I let everything go and it comes because I did.

I’ve been thinking about the future here. I spend entirely too much time on the computer – and for what reason? Not sure. I make a little money from ads on my web sites and it’s enough to live on. Do I need to do more? I’ve worked really hard for over a year to get to this point. If I worked that hard for another 18 months and had the same output it wouldn’t be worth it to me.

Is now the time to get rid of the computer, get a bike and go explore Thailand by bicycle? That’s one of the ideas floating around in thought right now. What else…?

I was thinking, why not create a place where visitors can come to meditate – where there is no agenda. No schedule. No classes. No anything except we provide a place for them to meditate – many places. Some in the woods, some in caves, etc. Just a place where meditators can come and do as they wish – their own practice. Not everyone wants 10-day Vipassana meditation courses like the ones we have plenty of here in Thailand.

Just some thoughts…

Layers of Reality 3-16-08

Last night an odd experience came to me as the body prepared for sleep. I went into one of the other rooms to see if we had another sheet for the mat I sleep on. I stood in the room for about 2 minutes. Not doing anything. I remembered why I was there, but I just stood doing nothing. There was no thought going on and there wasn’t any urgency about what to do next.

Eventually I walked out of the room and back to the mat. I laid down. The mind was still. No thought. There began to appear a picture in the mind. It was a picture that brought with it at the same time an action on the mind. Hmm, this will be so difficult to describe.

It was as if there were three or more rectangles in front of me. They were overlapping, but not smoothly – they were the same size, not concentric – meaning, they didn’t fit inside each other one smaller than the one next to it… They were the same size. Each rectangle held a picture inside it. The rectangles would go together and seamlessly overlap for a second and then move outward from each other, each holding a part of the picture of reality. When they were all together I knew this is what I, Vern, experience as reality. When they pulled apart from each other I not only saw the change – how reality is put together by these overlapping parts – but, I FELT IT – in my mind… It was as if reality was disintegrating within the mind too.

I think I’d better draw some Photoshop figures and see if that helps explain what was going on because I don’t think you have any idea what I’m saying at this point. Be right back…

The rectangles started out like this… I could see that there were a few of them and that they were the same size and overlapping.

Then they began to move in 3-dimensions- forward and backward – away from each other and then back toward each other – quite random, not in any pattern.

As they did, I could see individual pictures in them – as if the rectangles represented my field of vision. I could see the world in front of me in those pictures.

Then the rectangles moved as they did above and side by side, or left to right away from each other and back toward each other.

As they did this I felt as if the rectangles were actually part of my mind… the make up of my mind. As they moved I felt reality in my mind loosen and then focus as the rectangles came close to overlapping into one rectangle.

Reality felt very contrived. It felt as if it was only held together by the mind piecing it all together. This is the second strong experience related to reality not being what it’s usually accepted as being. The other time was when I was at the top of the mountain and looking at another limestone karst a couple hundred meters away. All the sudden the entire landscape in front of me turned to 2-dimensions. It created interlocking puzzle pieces of the entire scene (my whole field of vision). The pieces started to shake as if they were going to fall apart and break up the scene…

Here is that post with a video of me describing the experience >

Ha! I just watched the video – apparently I forgot to tell about the experience of the mountain turning into 2-dimensions. I just told about how I felt like I was supposed to focus on one spot… Ok, I’ll finish it up there so you can read it. Strange I forgot to put it in there. Ok, finished it.

Getting back to this experience… the rectangles continued for a few minutes or so and so did the feeling that reality was unsteady… it was unstable, it was not real… just an illusion that only appears steady when all layers of it are functioning in unison – like when the rectangles are aligned – I felt a stronger sense that reality was what I’d always known it to be. As the rectangles move apart – accordion like, or from left to right away from each other – it was as if there was no more time – time wasn’t functioning well. Or, a better description was, I was outside of time. I had no sense of time. It was quite odd…

I’d hear chickens and cars passing on the road outside, a voice outside… and there was no timeline to what I was hearing. What came first? The car or the chicken? It was as if time was one piece of the reality puzzle that was getting misaligned as the rectangular pieces moved around in front of me. Time wasn’t felt anymore. It wasn’t tangible at all.

For the next 20-30 minutes (not sure at all) there was an acute awareness of perceived stimuli starting and stopping. Sounds, tastes, pain, touches, etc… I watched as each thing I perceived affected the brain and then stopped. Then the next thing would be noticed, perceived, and stop. And again and again. It was an endless chain of things as the mind perceived something everytime the thing it perceived just before stopped. The mind’s attention went from stimuli to stimuli.

I gradually fell asleep as this was going on.