Does Enlightenment (Nirvana) Give You Mastery Over Emotions?

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

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

Today however…

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

Does enlightenment offer mastery over all our emotions?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it worth it?

I think it’s worth it…

You Are Not Ready for the Answer…

“You are not ready to accept the fact that you have to give up. A complete and total surrender. It is a state of hopelessness which says that there is no way out. Any movement in any direction, on any dimension, at any level, is taking you away from yourself.” – UG Krishnamurti

This is one of those statements from UG that I like quite a lot.

There are hundreds of thousands of one form or other of Buddhist monk and magi across the globe. They’ve given up their family, their friends, their old ways. In many cases, they’ve promised in hundreds of vowels to give up other things and focus on themselves, on what is inside the mind. Their goal is, of course, to reach liberation. To reach nirvana, nibbana, whatever you want to call it. They want to do what the Buddha did.

Thing is… Buddha didn’t do that. Buddha, like the statement above, gave up everything. Gave up himself.

The real secret, and the one that nobody seems to want to hear is, you must give up everything – including anything to do with your self – to reach the higher states of meditation like jhana – and to reach nibbana.

One of the main focuses I use when meditating is this “giving up” idea. I also call it “letting go” – which might be more descriptive and appropriate. It’s a letting go of anything that the mind is focusing on. A letting go of comfort needs, of emotional attachment, of being anything, doing anything special, of acquiring anything…

As you meditate there is really precious little to “do” at all. Most people don’t get that. Many of those that get it, don’t want to do it. I don’t know how to tell convince people that letting go is 100% essential to progress… to break the bounds of the mind.

If you are getting into anything resembling the jhana states during meditation, try “letting go” of everything as you become aware of it… this is what I did, and all the jhana states came easily (relatively, I mean) as I did so…

 

Dream – Looking for the Ultimate Unknown with the Wrong Tools

Fish at Wat Suan Mokkh, Chaiya, Thailand

I had a dream last night. I should have got up and gone into the other room and dictated it into my phone recorder so it was fresh, but I still remember much of it. It was short. There were a couple more short dreams that followed, but I cannot remember them at all right now.

In the dream, I’m watching some people beside me that are looking for the moon. It is pitch black and we start to see a bright but blurry object shining through what might be clouds. It gets bright and moves around a bit – and then it’s very bright and round shaped and staying in one place. They are oohing and ahhing. I look at them and I realize, they are shining a very bright flashlight to look for the moon.

They found what they thought was the moon, but it was created by the beam of the bright flashlight they were using, showing up on the clouds.

In my dream, I realized the meaning of what was going on… and I slowly came to realize that it was a dream.

The moon represents the unknown. It’s largely unexplored. We’ve landed there only once. A few people have gone up and been close to it – but there was only one landing.

This parallels the mystery surrounding Buddha and enlightenment. It is a mystery that many in the world would like to reach – to find, to experience. It’s as hard as getting to the moon apparently. It isn’t even seen clearly, because most people are using mechanical means, traditional 1 + 1 = 2 type approaches to reaching nirvana. It’s like using a flashlight to find the moon – it doesn’t make sense, and it won’t lead us to the true result. It is taught that way, and people try to follow it that way.

Problem is – it cannot be found like that – you will get nowhere.

It’s extremely hard (it is impossible) to talk about something as nebulous as nirvana – in terms we’re accustomed to hearing – and teach people to ‘get there’ by doing this, this, this then that.

Also, this dream relates to the abhinnas. I created some posts about abhinna a short while ago to start to talk about the very strange, multi-dimensional experiences (for lack of a better phrase) that can be had after someone begins getting into jhana realms. I know nobody else talking about these phenomena, but they clearly (to me) exist, and deserve a lot more exploration if we’re to find out much more about them.

In a way, the moon also was a metaphor for abhinna. People were using traditional methods for years to assess, to test, to experiment with extrasensory perception, seeing the future, hearing sounds very distant, and other “supernatural” occurrences. That isn’t the way to approach the topic – the dream was telling me.

The way to approach it is through jhana 4…  The dream was saying that the way to blowing the entire thing open – was through meditation… like I’ve done in the past.

So, this dream didn’t come out of anywhere. I have been thinking for years about continuing the journey that meditation started in my mind… and the idea that so few people have ever reached nirvana or even jhana or abhinna – has been on my mind quite a bit. I want to ignore the topic – and I do my best to do so, but it is always there in the back of my mind. It reminds me constantly that I experienced jhana and abhinna, and it won’t go away for good.

I know that it isn’t going away. It’s been 13 years since I started getting into jhana… about 12 since I had abhinna  – divine eye and knowing others minds. The memory of the experience, the profundity of it all, is not likely going away in the next 12-13 years either. Probably it is never going away. It feels like I am being gently urged to continue the whole process. To what end – is anyone’s guess. I try hard to involve myself in many other things. I try hard to be the old Vern that I was before I started seeing jhana levels. I try so hard to forget it all and yet, it’s right there all the time.

Sometimes I wish it would just disappear and leave me alone.

Other times I wish I had the motivation to go forward with it and see what happens.

I just don’t have it…

yet?

 

Enlightenment, Societal Consciousness

Thought today as listening to Alan Watts cassette that I am on the verge of enlightenment at any time. As I sit here experiencing the view out the dining area window One feels intuitively that if a shift occurred in the thought process then enlightenment would come and completely take over the mind and thought process. There is no inherent study that must take place. Maybe the questioning process that I’ve been following has lead to this point.

Could that little bit of mindfulness yesterday and the day before have produced this feeling/awareness?

I will put the watch back on again and keep resetting when it gets to 10 minutes up. It’s a great mindfulness bell.

One thought today that the individual thought processes of the mind are really expressed by the interactions of mankind as a whole. The tiny thought/feeling/knowledge of fear in the individual causes him/her to alienate those ( and be alienated too) that are different from ones self. This tiny snowball rolls and rolls and shows up in every country around the world. Every war! Every disagreement between nations, people, etc. Jealousy and greed, individual traits, show up also as jealousy between nations regarding riches, natural resources, etc.

There is nothing that is expressed in society that is not played out in most everyone’s mind at the individual level first. The result of society is accumulation of all of the individual’s within that society. All societies are the same. No one questions every single thing they’ve been taught. No one quiets the mind to find what is the essence of man. No one challenges every belief they hold as worthless. As a result the mind runs rampant.

The physical mind is a tape recorder that learns instantaneously, and then directs the body to respond according to those learned rules. The problem occurs when the mind learns as the result of ONE experience, and thereafter in a similar situation, will not allow the body to act in a different way (without preconceived notions) and so the predictable result occurs, reinforcing the mind’s erroneous conclusions.

The entire world could live at perfect peace with itself. What has happened is that society has reinforced us looking at ourselves as individuals. From the time a baby is young he is taught to hold on tightly to the concept of “I”. He is fed things on a daily basis, building up the ego and the sense of “I”.

This HUGE process creates division between people of every type: race, beliefs, religion, color, geographical location, color of hair, number of teeth, IQ, political beliefs, likes, dislikes, etc.

The entire process of society is to create individuals that are separate from the masses. This separation creates competition.

Competition is extremely harmful to the individual, and, ultimately, only benefits society in the form of greater technological advances, better living conditions, living longer, etc.

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

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…

🙂

What is the Point of Nirvana? 9-27-07

Meditation history (7.1Mb) MP3 audio format

9-27-07 Today I climbed the steps at the mountain at Wat Tham Suea again. A Thai boy of 8 years old kept up with me as we sort of raced to the top from steps 300 to 1200. At maybe 30 steps away from the top he was exhausted and had to stop to rest. I stopped a little ahead of him and waited for him to catch up so he could be the “winner”. I stayed at the top for a couple hours, at times sitting… and other times standing and walking around… I decided to climb into the rocks that the monk showed me the other day. (Video link at bottom of page). There were a few too many people at the top of the mountain and I thought I’d try that quiet spot in the rocks.

As I climbed over through the jagged limestone rocks someone called out in Thai, “Tum Mai Dai kup”. I called back, “mai chai, die kup”. (You cannot do that) and I responded, “Not true, I can do this”… To which he didn’t respond. I’m sure he was concerned about my safety as the rock peaks are treacherously sharp.

I reached the place and folded my long-sleeved shirt underneath me. I took off my shirt because I wasn’t visible from the Chedi observation area and it was quite warm in the sun.

I sat about an hour and the mind was very calm. The body, while still “there” felt very relaxed and comfortable. As I sat I realized that some questions were on my mind.

WHY MEDITATE to reach nirvana? What good is it? Is there a point? Is it a good thing?

I decided to study that question in the state I was in… attention and concentration came quickly and I reasoned out an answer within maybe 30 minutes.

There really is no point to any of it. Yeah, surprisingly that’s the conclusion that I came to. There’s much too much to write about it – but, I’ll create a video or at least some audio to explain how I came to that conclusion.

Here are the 3 files that explain all of it… The first is my history of meditation – what happened in the past and what exactly I did. What the jhanas were about, and why I stopped meditating for about 9 years.

Meditation history – (7.1Mb) MP3 audio format – not edited, but maybe should have been a little bit…

This next file is a video I took in mid-September where I was unsure what I’m doing by restarting meditation. I am not sure WHY meditation or reaching nirvana is a good goal. What is the reality of it? I couldn’t reason it out that well here, but I had a lot of questions about “WHY”.

WHY? Video (24Mb)

The file above explains what the thought process was at the top of the mountain as I asked myself “WHY” in the relaxed, concentrated state of mind… and the answers that I reached…

The last file, another MP3 audio file looks at why I believe there’s no point in reaching enlightenment, and what I’ve learned by having jhana come… how the mind and ego have changed…

Enlightenment, no point… Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

I don’t believe thatmeditating at this point is a good thing for me. For others, it may be… If you meditate and you reach a point where you are relaxing the mind and you are not going into jhana much or at all you may find meditation very relaxing and a positive thing to do and keep up with.

I found it to be a life changing experience. The changes that came over me 9 years ago were devastating to my marriage at the time… they destroyed the ego for a time… They gave me a glimpse into nirvana and what happens when the mind stops thinking and reacting emotionally. I understood what it means to lose the ego… to find equanimity… peace… bliss…

For me, the changes that took place, and that I believe will take place again if I continue to meditate are too radical for me to take lightly. I had to really ask myself – what is the point of this…? I had to ask myself, if you really reach nirvana – WHAT THEN? Nirvana seems a very real possibility in my mind right now, considering all I’ve experienced recently… The process seems to have picked up where it left off.

Nirvana has been said to be a permanent change in the mind… a letting go to the point that there is no longer suffering because the mind doesn’t attach to anything…

That’s why I needed to question – what good is that state?

My answers are in this recording… enjoy… if you have any questions, send to:

aimforawesome@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to answer…

🙂 Vern

Video link (2nd time posted):
Secret meditation spot up Wat Tum Sua mountain – A monk shows me how to get there…
14.7Mb in size >

Enlightenment, Jhana Levels – Comments 9-11-07

I haven’t read many accounts of jhana and how the Buddhists view jhana. What I’ve read up until today seemed to be telling me that jhana was necessary in order to reach enlightenment. While glancing through Buddhadassa Bhikku’s book, “Handbook for Mankind” I learned otherwise. It says explicitly that insight is necessary in order to reach liberation… Insight can be had two ways:

1.) Meditation and jhana states. or,
2.) The natural method of introspection which is what most people use since jhanas seem rather elusive to most people.

For me – jhana came rather easily… not without effort, but within a couple months I was experiencing jhana 1-4 rather often.  A couple months after that I had spent time in all the jhanas.  I knew little of Buddhism and didn’t care to know much about it. I was experimenting with my meditation. I wanted to take the bare minimum physical activities: mindfulness and meditation on the breath and see where it led.  Where it led was in a track that mirrors the levels of jhana that I read today in Bhante Vimalaramsi’s Dhamma talk in 2006 in Joshua Tree, California.

To say I’m surprised is an understatement. My meditation was an experiment really. I wanted to take as little of the religion of Buddhism into my meditation and mindfulness experiment. I wanted to do what the Buddha was said to have done. I wanted to see if religionless meditation and enlightenment was possible.  I was pretty clueless when jhana started coming. I hadn’t read of anyone’s jhana experiences and so I had nothing to compare to. I had asked Theravadin monks in Florida where I lived what they could tell me about these experiences – were they normal or was I losing it?  I didn’t get an answer. They were completely unfamiliar with the states of jhana. Living in Thailand for 3 years now and seeing very few monks practicing meditation at the maybe hundreds of temples I’ve visited, I understand that Thai monks don’t really use meditation much as a tool.

So – as I sat and focused on the breath I started reaching these jhana states… I’ll provide video or audio here shortly – describing the states as best I can. They defy words really, but I’ll give it my best. You won’t have a 5% understanding of what the state was really like, but at least you’ll see 5%!  They are so hard to put into words – impossible really.

In 2004 I went to see the Australian abbot at Wat Pah Nanachat in Warin Chamrap, in the northeast (Isaan or e-sarn) region of Thailand to see what he thought. As I talked to him and he asked me many qualifying questions… he said that it sounded like I was experiencing what all the monks at Wat Pah were trying to reach… levels of jhana…

He gave me a couple pamphlets and invited me to stay at the wat for as long as i wished – but the desire wasn’t there and I left the next morning.  As I read the pamphlets, wow, yes, it seemed that I’d had all of the jhana states as Buddhists believe them to exist.

Today as I read through the vivid description of jhanas by Bhante Vimalaramsi I couldn’t believe that FINALLY I was reading a very similar account of my own jhana experiences. It was really cool to see it after so many years – and knowing, “wow, someone else believes this is how it happens”.  Not only did the levels correspond very well to what happened to me, but some other things he said were RIGHT ON and what I believed from the start about meditation.

One of the things he said was that in order to progress in meditation and in jhana is to just note every experience and let it go. Everything must be let go. There’s nothing else to do during the states except watch, note, and let them go like every other piece of mind-candy that appears.  Other Buddhists seem to teach that certain ideas need to be focused on while in jhana.  I don’t think so – because I didn’t, and it appears that I’ve seen all of the 8 jhanas… It was just nice to see someone else collaborate my belief. Better still that he’s a well-respected Buddhist monk.

Well, I could write about this all night. I’m sure I’ll get some audio up here and comment directly on the statements he made and make my own comments sometime.

🙂