Letter to Dr. Josipovic – Re: MRI and Meditation

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…

* * * * *

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,

Vern​ Lovic

The Silence is Deafening

The silence in my head when I stop doing, is in a sense, the loudest noise I’ve ever heard. It means something colossal, and yet there is nothing there to tell me what it means. I don’t feel like I’ve reached nirvana. I haven’t done it through the jhanas. I have been in jhana 8, but, I didn’t go the entire distance. I didn’t let go of the final piece.

The process has been going on its own without meditation, I know. But, I don’t think it has gone the entire way. I still get angry at people in traffic that endanger the lives of me and my family. Here in Thailand that is a pretty regular occurrence. I’m over it quickly, but still, it happens automatically as I’ve attached to the idea that we must always be ‘safe’. If I had reached nirvana – I don’t think I would have these emotions. I am not sure, I just think that I’d likely not have them.

Five minutes ago I closed the eyes. There it was. Silence like standing in the middle of Antarctica, or a deep cave. It is a bit disconcerting to stay in that silence for long because I know it isn’t a normal human experience. It isn’t something most people are experiencing, and in truth, I’ve not known anyone to have experienced it. I have read a lot by now about meditative experiences. I’ve read the masters’ accounts of jhana and some monks’ and nuns’ accounts of passing into nirvana. I don’t remember anybody mentioning having a mind that was absolutely still anytime they stopped doing.

I’ll re-read Jiddu’s and UG Krishnamurti’s accounts of “the process” and what it entailed. Maybe there was something about it.

I think I mentioned, the new meditation book is nearly done. I am reviewing it for a final time before I send to three people I know that will review it. I’ll make final adjustments and then let it go on Amazon. If you want a free copy before that happens, just send me email and I’ll send it your way on PDF or whatever other format you require.

Metta,

Vern

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 >