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The Real Problem with Reaching Nirvana Through Meditation

Buddha statues - art photo from Thailand

[Last updated: 28 February 2020]

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.

The 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 amazing 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 what the process leading to Nirvana should be – feel free to tell me in the comments below.

9 thoughts on “The Real Problem with Reaching Nirvana Through Meditation”

  1. I have experienced nirvana / samadhi / enlightenment / yoga / the inflection point in infinity. It can be experienced. It is the most gorgeous transformative moment where you accept and realize you are god and everything around you is all made up by you in the world of illusion. You are not separate from anything. This is the moment where there is no time, because we made up time. Time is part of the illusion and the white light is so bright and pure it casts no shadow. I do talk about this state with a few other people I know who experience it. It is not a one time thing. You can continually return to the state of nirvana. It is the ultimate act of self love. When you love yourself and the whole world enough to recognize the illusion and the true nature of reality. Part of the illusion is the attachment we have created the process of how we allow ourselves to achieve the experience. It is unfortunate it is not talked about more openly but part of that is understanding the stages of illusion. The caterpillar who is trying to be a butterfly has only heard of the butterfly. It may have a concept of a butterfly but no idea how it is to be one. It has not experienced it yet. If the butterfly tells the caterpillar I am a butterfly and this is what it is like to be a butterfly, the caterpillar can only use faith to determine if the butterfly is really a butterfly and what it is like. He has not experienced it yet. It is hard for one who has not experienced the state to sense or understand the state of someone who has. There is no resonance with that which is unknown. Also some on the path to awakening to their buddha consciousness inside of them, have attachments to what they expect someone who has been enlightened to look like. A zen master once said “Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water after enlightenment chop wood carry water.” The texts and any information out there is just a roadmap to guide you but all things are knowable from within if you sit still, and listen to the light inside of you.

  2. I don’t meditate.
    For about an hour I was in a state with no emotion, no thought, no sense of self.
    My body was fully functional and reacted to everything by innate and learned reflex.
    There was no suffering and no desire. The fires were extinguished.
    My senses detected my environment and memories were created without interference from emotion or thought or imagination.
    Things just existed. I had no desire to think of those things. They just were.
    I did not recognise anything but not like normal non recognition. There was no desire to recognise things. They just were.
    Words were just sounds with no meaning. And I had no concern about it.
    Anyway, long story short. After returning to my normal state and thinking about the memories of what happened. I came to the conclusion that it was a state of Nirvana.
    I believe many have experienced this state but no one believes them because they can’t understand the explanations because they can’t relate to it.
    The enlightenment doesn’t happen during the state because there is no thoughts happening. Enlightenment comes after and may take time and happen slowly.

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

    this statement is shown only one way of meditation. there is another approach to recieve the more advanced knowledge that Buddha shares with people who want to release from sufferring and pain of living. The fact is thay The meditation is not only focus on once combining mind and breath, but there is another way by applying one mind to only see the changing of mode, emotion, heart or thought via ears to hear, eyes to see, smell by nose…leading to the result of all things in nature will be ended and rebirthed. for example people birth, getting older, unhealthy, dealth. this is a law of nature. it is raining because water releases from the ground due to the effect of hot weather such a cycle of life.

    Nothing will stay forever, but there are other things would exchange and grow up…

  4. if aiming to the nirvana, this needs to go a way from the world without stricting on processions and outside happiness. But focusing on inside substaintial happines

  5. Nowadays , I have read many westerners mentioning that they reached Nirvana.
    On the other hand , i could hardly read about eastern monks achieved that.
    I read somewhere from a Thai forest monk that , if someone had reached Nirvana while living , then his \her body are unable to sustain that kind of “energy\attainment ” , the life energy\citta\soul\whatever you call it will leave the body within 72 hours , that is you will pass away.
    The only way to prevent that is you HAD to become a monk ,then the body is able to hold the citta.
    So a laymen\women can’t keep the body and attain the final release.
    At most , probably they have achieved anagami.

  6. ALL western monks following the Thai forest monks , whether well known or otherwise ,
    not a single of them had easily mentioned achieving nirvana in all their books and talks.
    Most western writers\yogis had easily abusing the word nirvana as if you go thru a 4 years degree course and you will get your degree (nirvana ) at the end of the training\reading their books.
    I wish it would be that easy , without spending 40 years of hardship in the deep forest like the Thai monks.

  7. Seems ridiculous, to be honest. Buddhism is intent on giving the monks some sort of supreme ability to attain/handle enlightenment. This is part of the problem. Monks I’ve spoken to in Thailand don’t think they are even ‘worthy’ or have the right kamma to attain enlightenment or even simple jhanas. I believe nearly anyone who dedicates themselves to practicing a good system can reach jhanas and enlightenment.

  8. I think most monks spending 40 years meditating aren’t on the right path if they haven’t been enlightened already. Or, if they’re following a good plan, they aren’t putting in the effort. 😛

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