The Real Problem with Reaching Nirvana Through Meditation

Buddha statues - art photo from Thailand[Last updated: 8 March 2019]

Do you know anyone who is enlightened?

Buddha showed us that it wasn’t all that difficult – it’s just a simple process of sitting and watching the breath.

Why isn’t there anyone who is enlightened today?

At least I haven’t met anyone. Have you?

Sure you might have read about someone – but, can you trust what you read? For me, I’d have to meet the person. Could I then tell – enlightened or not? I’m not really sure. 😛

There must be 100,000 monks here in Thailand – and yet – who of them is enlightened? None I’ve met. Nobody is talking about any of them alive today that’s enlightened. India is claiming some – but, here in Thailand, a land of 65 Million plus people – 98% Buddhist… I can’t find any.

Why is that?

I believe that the problem lays in the double bind.

Having gone along the path to some degree I realized that the couple keys to progressing are:

1. Meditating not to get anywhere.

2. Letting everything go that comes up during meditation. Sure, look at it in the case of feelings, pain, fear, uncomfortable feeling, heat in the body, sweat running down your cheek – tickling… but after you look at it and gain wisdom about it… let it go.

Same goes for jhana and other experiences. Let them go. Don’t take them to mean you’re on the fast track to the same state as the Buddha – just let them go as if they are nothing.

Now, how does someone do this if they’re whole life is centered on the act of reaching Nirvana – or progressing as far as they can?

Nirvana is set up as this ultimate and unattainable goal that is so important…

How does one not get excited and attach to the various states that precede jhana… let alone once inside jhana?

The states are amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing states. They are so awesome in their depth and character… so unlike anything people have ever experienced before.

How can someone go through that and not make a big deal of it?

That’s the thing – most can’t. The more you’re a die-hard Buddhist and stuck on tradition and some magical formula for getting jhanas… the less chance you’ll have of ever getting further than your first experience because the goal suddenly seems realistic then – and you blow it all out of proportion, attach to the experience and never see it again.

I believe that enlightenment is not very likely for any monks or serious students of Buddh-ISM. The less you read about what should happen – the better.

The less you care about reaching the higher states of jhana… enlightenment – the better.

Otherwise when presented with some of the feelings of jhana or what precedes… you’re blown away by it and can’t get over it… every time you get close from then on – the anxiety arises and you’re attached to getting the experience again.

Jhana just goes away at that point… it won’t come when you’re attached – wanting – desiring it. It just won’t.

When you get into Jhana 5-8 the states are so intense… for lack of another word – that few can get past them – especially realizing that level 8 is supposedly the one Buddha launched into enlightenment from.

Much better that you don’t even know what Jhana 8 is. I didn’t have any idea I was at the last door.

Don’t read anything about Buddhism. Just follow the physical steps of meditation and see what happens.

Download my ebook about how to go about it. It’s basically just what I did. Without the ‘-ism” … without the fluff that goes with any religion and that makes experiences you have while meditating bigger than life – and ultimately get in the way of you getting anywhere at all.

If you have any questions about anything or want to attack me for discounting all the books you’ve read and all the attachment you’ve built up in your mind about how the process leading to Nirvana should be – feel free in the comments below.

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?

 

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.

🙂