I had this idea today that I would get a brain MRI done here in Thailand. I’d just pay for it and not tell them what I was going to do, but my idea was to go into my brain’s default “flatline” mode and then see what the doctor’s said. Just for curiosity’s sake.
So today I Googled ‘MRI and jhanas.’ I found that Dr. Josipovic did some MRI scans of monks that were meditating. Apparently he was studying the transitions between states.
I wrote him a letter. Not expecting a response, but who knows…
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Greetings Dr. Josipovic,
I read about some of your work where you look at MRI scans of monks who are meditating.
I have a peculiar state of mind that has lasted for the last 5 years or so now. I’ve had jhanas 1-8 and I seem to have gone beyond that, or maybe on a different track all together.
My mind appears to have stopped. Flatlined. This seems to be the resting state of my mind. I can “do” – like typing this email out to you. When I stop doing, there is nothing. There is awareness… pure awareness, but there isn’t thought. Thought has ceased, similar to when jhanas come, there is no thought, but there is jhana – those bizarre experiences that just seem to happen on their own.
This state is different. There is no experience, just awareness.
It’s as if there is no ‘watcher’. No do-er. Nobody there to judge.
In that state the body functions fine, the eyes look around, the ears hear, the lungs breathe, and yet the mind is sort of unlinked. Though the eyes may see many things, seeing something doesn’t lead to naming it and thought forming about what is being viewed. The sense objects don’t lead to anything. They don’t start thought up. The mind is at perfect rest. It doesn’t move.
It’s curious because it isn’t something I have to “do” to reach the state. It’s the default. It’s always there when I stop doing. The state comes whether I’m in a crowd of loud people, in a car, in a restaurant, wherever. I’ve gradually become familiar with it and not as bothered by it as I was at first.
I am contacting you just out of the blue like this because I had this idea to go pay for an MRI here myself in Thailand. I would go into the flat state for the duration of the MRI – and see what they told me about the result. I wouldn’t tell them I was going to do it – just an experiment.
But I thought I would ask you if you’ve ever recorded the experience before. Personally I don’t know anyone that has been in this state, and the Buddhist monks here in Thailand are also at a loss for words.
Best of life to you,