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

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.)

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 Me to Focus on Breathing 9-3-07

I was at Wat Tum Sua again today (Buddhist temple in southern Thailand). The weather was nice, cool and windy. No rain. There were very few people at the top. When I first got to the top and took off my shoes to go up onto the platform, there was a young monk sitting in some shade in the corner. I recognized him as one I’d seen at the top before. He was meditating. I have honestly not seen even 1 monk meditating in Thailand at a wat before except at Wat Pah Nanachat and Suan Mokkh.

I looked out at the mountains and he came over to me and offered me a soy milk box which I took with thanks. I spoke to him in Thai and he was extremely shy to speak, but wanted to speak it seemed. He was from Suratthani area and had been at the Wat Thamsuea for about a year. He was 21 years old.

Anyway, so I went to sit and meditate and found a place on the ground. I sat for maybe an hour and had varying degrees of concentration and mindlessness (vernlessness) as there was no vern to watch the breath. I had to focus on the breath to bring a vern back into the picture.  Odd to read this, I know, but, that is the experience. There is nothing there to watch the breath… no “me” so to speak. If I wasn’t trying to force something to be there to watch the breath – there is just nothingness. I am aware of things around… the air, the sounds, etc. If I open my eyes – I can see without a problem… and yet, still – there is no center point for where “i” am. It’s like no “me”.

Anyway, the video might explain better… I filmed as I walked down the steps, showing me at first – then showing the steps.

Walking down steps at Wat Thamsuea video > (.wmv about 4MB)

Update 6-15-09:

Still much the same. If I sit to meditate the mind is quiet already. There’s no sense following the breath because the mind is still. The body relaxes easily… now what is the point of meditation when I have this level of peace from the start?

I’d rather not ask Buddhists or consult books as I like to see how things play out on their own… probably the jhanas wouldn’t have come at all if I’d gone looking. Better just to see what happens…

My Experience with Meditating

Here is something I posted in a meditation group a while back. Interesting to read it again.

I just stumbled upon this group and it seems to be a good place to share some of my experience during vipassana.

Quick history… I am 39, an American living in Thailand in the Northeast in a city called Ubon Ratchathani. There is a Wat here filled with many English speaking monks and that is kind of the “why” I ended up here in this city.

I grew up Catholic – not by choice, and by 16 years old I had already questioned the hippocracy of it and was moving into my own search for truth (I thought there was a truth then…). I read the bible completely through and every day for a while… I prayed in earnest and never felt fulfilled… ‘faith’ just never could give me anything to grasp onto…

Fast forward to when I was 25 years old and in Miami, FL at Florida International Univ. I took an elective “World Religions” class and found the Jewish teacher to be incredibly knowledgeable about Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and the rest of it… I started to expand my search to include experience in many types of these other groups. I attended different get-togethers and studied a bit of what they believed and why they believed it…

Then I started reading about Buddhism… it resonated the closest to what I thought was the truth… but again, it was an “ism” that I soon discarded… I went a few years without much of a religion… finished school in Tampa, FL at Univ. of South Florida and found some eastern philosophy books in Barnes & Noble… I started consuming them… then books on Buddhism…

In my 5 years of psychology studies, I came to believe that “truth” for me was only what I experienced. It was not what strangers told me in a book or on television, on the radio, on records/cassettes/CDs… It was not what close friends that I trusted told me either… Direct experience was the only truth that I could ever know. I decided that meditation seemed like something I might find some truth in… I found SN Goenka’s book on Vipassana and decided to sit and watch the mind for a bit and see what was going on in there.

I meditated by sitting in a half-lotus position, with liberties taken to get more comfortable (like a pillow under my butt at times, or if my back was in severe pain like it was for the first couple months I would lean against the futon cushion or couch which gave some support.

I meditated mostly in my spare bedroom for a period of ~ 10 months while living in Temple Terrace, FL.

At the risk of sounding trivial and incomplete, I will list some experiences here.

Please understand that the experience is only memory now (this was 9 years ago). And, while I believe my memory is very good and the experience seems like it was yesterday, any description of what the experience was is not really what it was… It couldn’t possibly be. It is so beyond impossible to put the experience to paper or into bits. I share this because it would be enjoyable to read comments or hear of similar experiences.

As i watched the mind i saw photos and heard voices. These were thoughts. This was brain activity that goes on almost every minute of every day of our lives unless we decide to watch it and see what occurs. While watching thoughts i also looked at pain and irritation… my back hurt, spiders crawled on me, mosquitoes bit me regularly when I was in the garage at night… Moths would land on me, sweat would run down my chest and tickle or it would get into my eyes. My feet or legs or neck or? There always seemed to be something that was hurting or irritating during the first few weeks of practice. Oh, the itchiness was unbearable sometimes after the mosquitoes or red ants bit.

I used little technique that the books taught except for a few principles. I was also reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s books on peace and mindfulness during these 10 months so I used some short sentences while focusing on breathing to help calm the mind and relax the body. Some of them I took straight from the book, others I just made up as they seemed more suited to me. One of them went something like… “breathing in I focus on my breath at the nose…breathing out… relax”.

There were “results” or experiences, that came rather quickly. Just a week and the mind and body were able to settle into a state of relaxation in which thoughts would cease for brief periods. It was during these relaxed states that the breath became gradually shallow and very slow… the hands would start to tingle – not at all like when a body part is “falling asleep”, but a faster and less pronounced tingle… and they would start to go numb… this numbness would sometimes start at the feet at the same time and would progress up the legs and up the arms.

When I didn’t respond or attach to the feeling (cling) it would envelop the whole body and soon there felt as if there was no body. The body was gone, there was only mind… and mind was sometimes gone too. There were periods of realizing – “hmm, the body is gone… this is great… or, this is scary” and yet most thought about it was done after meditating… During the meditation at all times I kept one idea… that nothing is to be grasped, clung to, sought after… and for the most part that is what I did…

If a mosquito landed on me during one of these states, the mind watched it – the eyes were closed, it didn’t matter what kind of bug it was… the mind watched the skin get pierced and later felt the itch and watched the itch until it no longer was itch. Every sensation arose and gradually left.

There began a feeling of non-attachment to everything. Wife, job, car, house, making $, a website, any “thing” became nothing worth obtaining. Whereas in the past I was very driven and bent on the accomplishment of every sort before meditating it all dissolved very quickly. So too did the desire to do anything that furthered ‘non-truth’ or something unwholesome so to speak…

Many small experiences were had during this time, that I’ll not write about… After the numbness and peace came it was a week or so before I could count 10 breaths in total awareness and without thought (other than counting to 10). At times these states of concentration would last just 10, at other times I could’ve counted to 1000 or 10,000 if I had chosen… but, I think that when you get to somewhere around 10 and you feel the state of concentration – then just throw away the ‘technique’ of counting to 10 and instead, feel the concentration directly. The counting to 10 is a tool to get you quiet enough… discard it once you’re there…

So the mind would go without thought for a period of time… maybe 1 minute… maybe 40 minutes or a bit more at its peak… I never meditated more than maybe 1 1/2 – 2 hours at a time. The usual time was about 40 minutes.

At times, during the concentrated state the body and mind would seem to grow to fill the room… actually there was no room, no walls were sensed, no boundaries or limits… but the mind and body would just grow… there seemed to be no limits of skin anymore… no physical limits… and the concentration seemed to expand as well. Keep in mind, this is a very vague explanation of the feeling, it can’t be put into words but I’m trying…

I went through the state of ecstasy where I felt so ecstatic I thought I would burst with love and joy. It happened a couple of times at a feverish pitch and then was felt lightly afterward in subsequent sessions. It was a feeling that not only was during meditation but during ‘waking life’ – walking around during the day – it was there in small or large doses…

There was also this feeling of balance… the monks here at the Wat called it ‘equanimity’. So that’s as good a word as any. The feeling was there during meditation and waking hours. It was a ‘knowing’ or a solid feeling that felt as if everything was as it should be or that there is nothing to value as better or worse or by using any other words as a dichotomy.

Sometimes while meditating the breath became so slow and shallow and the mind was completely devoid of thought that it felt as if the body had died. After all, it was numb, there was no feeling of body. No feeling of mind since it wasn’t active.

At times there was no detection of breath coming in and out, like it had just stopped and that the ambient air in the room was enough to sustain the body in that state.

Other times it felt as if the concentration, the “mind” for lack of better word was pressing up against some unseen force… it was as if the mind was a magnetic force of one polarity and that it was surrounded by some other force of the same polarity but they were not able to reach each other – they were repelled, and yet were drawn together like gravity… there was a distinct idea that the ego would be lost when these two forces blended together… and many times meditation was stopped at that point for fear of not knowing what was going on. I “knew” that enlightenment was just beyond that point.

I knew that once the forces blended – and they would if I didn’t grasp to the idea of becoming enlightened… once they blended that would be the end of Vern (my name). It was very, very scary. I wasn’t ready yet.

I remember reading books about what was happening during these odd states, and yet none of the books were detailing what “I” was experiencing. There were many similar experiences in the books but my experiences seemed different and didn’t follow the “order” or progression that the Buddhists talked about…

It was during this time – about 9 months into Vipassana that I sought out Buddhist monks at the Wats in the Tampa, Florida area to ask them to explain what was going on with me and am I doing this “correctly”… I met only one monk that spoke English to any degree and he was either not very knowledgeable about the states of Jhana or he could not explain to me… he seemed more interested in finding out about American culture.

I read more books. I asked anyone I could that had meditated. Later I looked on the internet. I could not find a concrete answer to – “Am I going to go insane if I continue?””What good is Nirvana for anyone anyway?” – I knew that for me the question was becoming crystal clear…

I would experience total bliss – I had felt it while meditating and then I began to have experiences during my day in which bliss would come upon me and there was nothing I could do but experience it… it just CAME and no matter what I was doing there was this feeling of ultra-awareness and truth… It was a total state change and would occur whenever it wanted… it just happened. After I stopped meditating the “otherness” as Jiddu Krishnamurti sometimes called it – just came and I feared that it was on a course of it’s own and would complete it’s way with me despite my stopping meditating. For days at a time I would walk around in complete equanimity – unable to “want” something, unable to “desire to “be” something”… it was quite unnerving after it went away and I thought about what it meant.

It meant the destruction of the me… it meant that relationships that I had would be severed, not on my part- but because friends, family couldn’t begin to grasp it. They didn’t know how to interact with the new “vern”. Which was really more like the absence of the old vern since he was no saint before. Somewhere during the time I was meditating my wife and I dissolved our marriage. I could no longer relate to her… to selfishness, to greed, to gossip. I could not have the normal interchanges that we used to have.

Imagine the person that you married going away. The body is there. The mind is there. The memories are there. But, the new vern wouldn’t pull out the memories that were incongruent with the new vern. So, while the memories were there locked into the mind – they were not needed much. There was very little recall of anything in the past because the focus – the whole focus was on present. There weren’t thoughts about past or future. It just didn’t happen. Nearly every moment from maybe the 6th month to the 10th was spent in mindfulness of the moment, nowhere else.

I had stopped my job activities, I was a real estate salesperson and luckily had some money saved because there was no desire to perform work that wasn’t congruent with what I was feeling. There was no motivation for ANYTHING. I stopped exercising. I stopped talking with friends. Family and friends would call on the phone and I’d give them responses that were totally uncharacteristic for the old vern. They were afraid, especially since I’d already lost my wife and they knew I wasn’t working.

When I stopped meditating about the 10th month as I said before, the process was going on its own. No meditation was necessary… It would just ‘visit’ whenever it felt like it. A couple times per day was common for the first few months of stopping. Then it slowed to once/day, then couple times per week… where it stayed for a couple years… then (and now) it is not often that it occurs – once per couple months on average now. However, what has remained is this knowledge of what is there. It is always there. It is waiting there and it’s the most comforting feeling. It also has a pulling effect… like gravity. It is always pulling me toward it, to finish the process I suppose.

It has been 9 years since I meditated regularly (there were maybe 15 instances of sitting for 30 minutes in 9 years).

In order to STOP the process… I decided the only way to interrupt it was to fight it by acting as if the ego was back and purposefully going against the feeling in every way possible. After all, it was running on its own and I was very afraid that it would never cease. I began real estate and pursuit of money and debauchery that was excess even for the old vern.

Last year while still living in the United States there was a sudden increase in the ‘gravity’ or pulling and it felt like I had to continue the process. It was undeniable. The ‘otherness’ came back more frequently. The gravity was stronger. MUCH stronger. I began to look on the internet again for clues of what the whole thing meant. I wasn’t convinced that I was in the enlightenment process… but I was convinced that whatever was taking place inside me was very very powerful.

It had already changed who I was as a person. There was already much less ego present – a 1/10th?

I searched for a day and found someone on a web site in Thailand… “Santikaro” he was called. He was an American that had found his way to Thailand about 20 years before to study Buddhism. There was his picture on the site with Buddhadassa Bhikkhu – one monk that I did read some of before and enjoyed his perspective. So I emailed him. No response. I called the number that was listed for some organization in Illinois, hoping to reach someone that could tell me his phone number.

Well, HE PICKED UP THE PHONE. I was so excited to finally speak to a person that could maybe help… I explained what happened to me for over an hour – he listened. When I was done he asked some questions… apparently, there are false experiences that might not be ‘real’ – whatever that means, I’m not sure… but, he seemed to be genuinely interested in what I said because he and I talked for nearly 2 hours that afternoon. My main questions were – 1. What was I experiencing? 2. Is there any desire to complete obligations in society – like making car payments, driving, working, etc.

While failing to give a direct answer, he did tell me that it appeared that I had experienced the Jhanas – perhaps all 8 of them. About the obligations – he said that the personality remains somewhat after enlightenment… memories remain, sense of humor might remain… however, a total loss of the ego would result and I would become a very different person to those that know me. I asked him if it is realistic to think that an enlightened person could live outside of a Wat in Tampa, Florida – without the support of monks and other believers… and he wasn’t sure… he too had pondered that question…

And so – at the close of our call he asked that I write him email to give contact details and that he would recommend a Wat in Thailand to visit if I found myself there…

I wrote. He wrote. He gave me the name of a Wat here in Thailand called, Wat Pa Nanachat. There are many English speaking western monks here and I had the opportunity to speak to 2 of them. The first had the duty of speaking to all the visitors. He was the guest monk. He was from California originally and had been at the Wat for over 2 years. I told him some of what I experienced and his face beamed… he wasn’t sure what to say… he said that the monks there at Wat Pa were all trying to reach these states of mind and that I had found them…. he encouraged me to stay and complete the journey at the Wat… Hmm. There it was, two monks that said the same thing. I decided I must speak to the abbot. He was an Australian guy, shaved head and eyebrows. Everyone had the most sincere respect for him there and even here in Ubon Ratchathani, he is well known and revered…

so I spoke with him and told him what I experienced… and he was smiling maybe the whole time I told him… and it was like he knew when I sat down that there was something going on in me… and he too said, you were likely in the jhanas… and he went on to ask questions to try to clarify what levels of jhana I had gone through – and it appeared that I had been through 8 of them… and he too was very encouraging about staying at Wat Pa for as long as I needed… and that I was very welcome to stay as long as I wanted…

I stayed overnight… it was a full moon weekend so we had to stay up all night, listening to chanting, dharma talks… and meditating. My back hurt tremendously and I decided in the morning about 5 am. that I would go digest what I had learned and return if I wanted to continue meditating… and so – I found this city and have been here teaching English for a few months.

(update – I’ve been in Thailand for over 14 years… and have meditated off and on during this time)