There Is No Present, Only Past

A journal entry I found from a long time ago…

12/18/95

I was looking outside Fern’s apt. Towards the lake and saw some guys playing basketball. As I watched them dribble I heard the dribble come a little later. This made me realize that not only is everything that we hear in the past, but everything that we see is in the past as well.

Are there any experiences that are in real time besides thoughts?

No, because each bit of sensory input needs to travel the pathway of neurons to the brain before the experience can be experienced by us.

It’s kind of strange to think that nothing any human being has ever experienced outside his body has happened at the exact instant the individual perceived it to happen. We are viewing EVERYTHING as it has existed at one point in time, nothing is in REAL TIME though. If we could take slices out of time that were 1/10,000ths of a second then we could see the different time periods that our senses and stimuli take to travel to reach us (sound, light, vibration).

Is the Voice in Your Head – You?

I’ve been looking a bit at the state of my mind and giving consideration to what I want to do with it. If you’ve read some of my past posts, my mind is in a strange state at the moment. It has been in a sort of flat-line for the past couple of years. I can make myself take action, make decisions, do things… but when I stop doing, there is nothing. The mind is empty and flat. There is no thought running around like there used to be. ADD/ADHD used to rule my mind. It ran rampant. That is gone now. I seem to be in a sort of conscious jhana 4 that is there without fail when I choose to be quiet. I have done it in large groups of people where there is music and a lot of talking. I have done it in the middle of writing a book or riding the motorbike. It is always there when I stop doing.

For the past couple of months I’ve been writing this next meditation book. It will be part of the “Meditation for Beginners” series, and will focus on helping beginners and advanced meditators alike.

As I write this book I am reminded over and over about the state of my own mind. I have had senior monks tell me what they thought I might do in order to progress further in the process, and yet I haven’t really had any desire to do so. A few years ago after asking myself the question, “What is the point of enlightenment?”, the question went away and there hasn’t been any desire to seek anything more than what I already had. I’ve been quite at peace the last couple of years, and the flat-lined mind state that is always there when I’m quiet and not doing anything, is odd when I think about it – but, it isn’t at all something that is worrisome. It has given me a great reprieve from my previously plagued ADD/ADHD mind which made me anxious and tense for the first 30 some years of my life.

So, lately I’ve meditated a bit just to refresh my mind with the states of jhana and other meditation essentials that I wanted to add to the new book. In doing so I’ve noticed my mind calming even more during times I’m “doing”. Meditation is so powerful, even at this stage of the game. Probably because of it, I’ve been considering how I can experiment more with this flat mind and maybe learn something from it.

Monks have told me that I probably just need to start asking myself the question – “Who am I?” or “Where is the I inside?” Questions like this. I’ve avoided doing so up to now because as I said, the want to go further just hasn’t been there. However, recently I thought maybe I can ask some other questions and see what the result is.

What I’ve been looking at, last night and this morning, is this…

I’ve been looking at the voice in my head. The voice in my mind. You have one too. It’s the one that you probably think is the embodiment of who you are, the physical/mental manifestation of ‘you’ inside. It’s the one that talks to you in your own voice. It’s the one that asks you questions and gives running commentary in your head throughout the day, throughout your waking state, throughout your life.

I’ve been looking at this voice and trying to see what it consists of. I’ve asked myself – What is this voice? Why is it there? What purpose does this voice serve?

Slowly I’m coming up with answers. The main answer seems to be – the voice in my head is just memory firing off in response to other memories triggering them. Memory knows how I sound to myself – and can repeat that voice exactly.

I find the voice constantly asking me questions and talking while I’m “doing’. When I’m not doing, there is no voice. It’s quiet. Memory is not working during this quiet state either. There may be a connection between memory and this voice then. Seems to be one. Could be one anyway.

This morning I thought I’d look at it again. I thought, if this voice is just the product of memory firing in the brain, then why not give it something that it has never known before? Why not give it something to say that it has never said. Memory then, I thought, couldn’t act in that case and maybe the voice would change.

I tried making up a very long nonsense word of about 40 syllables and watch my mind, the voice in my head, say it. There seems to be real discord in the mind when I do so. The word does not come out easily, and the voice appears to be inconsistent. It doesn’t seem to be my exact voice the entire time. I think what is happening is that the mind is struggling to create the new sounds in my own voice – but it is not there in memory for the mind to spit out quickly. It stumbles… it stutters.

I tried it a couple of times – always the same result – unsmooth, not very much like my voice.

Then I tried to compare it to something that I have said in the past, “OK Vern, let’s go to the mountain.” The voice came out perfectly in my head, as if I was speaking into my own ear – a perfect representation of my voice that, upon comparision, made the voice that said the nonsense word, clearly not really mine.

Anyway, just an interesting little experiment going on in my head this morning. I’m going to give it some more effort later as I get some quiet time. At the moment I’m sitting in the upstairs bedroom with my daughter who had a fever this morning. We feared Dengue – the worst case scenario, as we are the second most infected province in the country at the moment.

Have you ever looked at the voice in your head and asked yourself about it?

What is it?

Who is it?

Where does the voice in your head come from?

What is its purpose?

How can you trip it up?

Maybe something to look at. I don’t know. Will write more later if I see anything more to report about it…

🙂 Vern

Good Places to Meditate in Thailand

Meditation Incense - Thailand

I just thought I’d write up a quick list of a few places that are pretty ideal to meditate at in Thailand. Many travelers are looking for a place to sit and have relative peace and quiet, and yet, that is rather hard to find in Thailand. Thailand is not what I’d consider a quiet place in general.

Some Good Places to Meditate in Thailand:

1. Wat Suan Mokkh. This is located in Chaiya province north of Suratthani, which is north of Phuket and Krabi. Chaiya is on the Thailand Gulf coast just south of Chumphon. This is a Buddhist temple started by Buddhadasa Bhikku, who has since passed. There are monthly ten-day meditation retreats (vipassana, anapanasati style). These are silent retreats, and not for everyone. However, there is also the do-it-yourself option where you can show up at the main temple (Thai side, West side of the highway). Sign in and tell the monks you’d like to stay for a couple days or weeks, and they’ll set you up. You pay for your own food, but you can eat breakfast for free after the offerings. There are only 1-2 foreign monks there that speak English, and you probably shouldn’t be bothering them all the time. So, this option is for those that know how to meditate and want to find a place that allows them to stay and do it as long as you’d care to. There are restrooms with scoops for water (showers) and dorm rooms which you’ll share with other foreigners that are staying there. Do be aware that it is an open environment and anything of value that you bring, can be stolen. The foreign residents are not to be trusted – many are down on their luck, or looking for a major life change after years on drugs or whatever else. Suan Mokkh website is here.

2. Wat Pah Nanachat. This is located in Warin Chamrap, Ubon province in northeastern Thailand. It is an Ajahn Chah temple that houses many foreign monks. There are usually a couple of dozen monks as residents, along with some Thais. This option is not for everyone. If you stay, you’re expected to conform to their rules and you eat only until mid-day, then no more meals. You walk on pindabot rounds in the villages to accept food in the early morning hours. You’ll have a very small room to stay in with mosquito net and light. Wat Pah website is here.

3. Khao Phanom Bencha Mountain Resort. This is in Krabi province, and sits at the base of the Khao Phanom mountain chain in Krabi. This is a bungalow style resort with reasonable costs (600-1,000 THB per night) of $18-30 per night depending whether in high or low tourist season. There are paths to do walking meditation in the forest and it’s an absolutely beautiful rainforest location. Though not perfectly quiet, if you request quiet from Son, the manager, he will do everything he can. Keep in mind, some maintenance (weeding) of the grounds takes place almost daily, it’s a very large area that needs maintained and weed-whackers occasionally can be heard during the day. The resort website is here.

4. Top of Wat Tum Sua Buddhist Temple in Krabi, Thailand. This one is a good place for meditators that aren’t so concerned with absolute quiet. There are steps up the side of a mountain to the 900 foot high peak where there is a Buddhist Chedi, Buddha, and other statues. There are a couple quiet areas where you can be away from the majority of tourists. Email me for exact location, I don’t want to publicize it here. Wat Tum Sua website is here.

5. Khao Sok National Park. This is located between Suratthani, Krabi, and Phuket in a large wilderness area. It is out of the way, and that means it is very quiet. In fact, most national parks in Thailand are pretty quiet. There is little grounds maintenance going on and few trucks or parties. Parks are a good place to meditate.

Hope that helps. In general, you can meditate at the national parks for a quieter experience. Or, you can feel free to sit somewhere at a Buddhist temple. Do take the time to read up on proper attire and behavior while on temple grounds. Know that pointing your feet toward a Buddha statue is a sign of disrespect.

Have fun in Thailand!

 

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…

 

The Real Problem with Reaching Nirvana Through Meditation

Buddha statues - art photo from Thailand5/16/09

Do you know anyone who is enlightened?

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

Why isn’t there anyone that 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? Not 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 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 you’ve 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 enlightenmind 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 blow 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 free 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… ( AimforAwesome [{ @ ]} gmail. c o m )

Meditation Without Religion

Meditation without religion at jhana8.comBasically, meditation without religion is what this site is about… I created a facebook page here about the topic:

Meditation Without Religion

It is easier to post things at that page and for you to interact with me and each other there – if you choose.

I keep saying I’ll be doing some videos soon… and perhaps I’ll start them today. I wanted to talk about what the whole idea behind meditation without religion on a video, and then go over some of the finer points of meditation that I think will help some people who might be stuck or confused.

The Word, “Seamlessness” Describes the Underlying Reality

An online friend of mine whom I’ve never met came up with this word to describe a state of mind during my meditation that I was trying desperately to describe to her. It came to her in a split second and yet she insists she’s never used the word before to describe anything.

Seemlessness works for 2 reasons. It’s a play on words. When spoken it can represent two different words.

The word, seem, means that there is some distortion of reality… of perception of reality… some twisted idea or sense of objective reality. Seemless would mean that one is experiencing objective reality with any “seeming”. Without any distortion. In that way, meditation and the process that is going on inside me makes a lot of sense. Meditation cuts through the distortion. Cuts through the fluff. Cuts through untrue states and falseness.

Seamlessness is what my friend actually meant when she first said the word… but then the more we both looked at it – we decided – wow, it fits both ways and very well for meditative states. A seam is a place where two things come together… two pieces of metal, of cloth, of paper, of photographs, of digital images that one is trying to mesh together seamlessly. I was trying to explain to my friend the feeling of having no disconnection between all things in the world – an underlying connectedness or a feeling that everything is of the same essence… and she came up with the seamless part… and it being a feeling – I added the ness.

A feeling of seamlessness pervades the mind when I experience the interconnectedness of all things – the sort of – “at one with everything” feeling that comes and goes with different levels of strength, but that is pretty much underlying all states of meditation.

Words are not the Thing…

Reading J. Krishnamurti today and a lot lately. Why? His focus is on not focusing on a system or particular means to find the truth for one’s self. He doesn’t say to meditate as Thich Nhat Hanh or Buhhadhassa or Jack Kornfield may say. Hence, no time away from Fern (my wife).

His book ‘The flame of attention’ concentrated on showing us how to observe. Observe in the sense that we throw away all knowledge and past memories, old feelings, old thoughts, etc. About that which we are observing. He gave the example of a tree. He said that in order to observe a tree we need to observe it without giving it the name ‘tree’. We need to look at it for ‘what it is’, not that which we’ve built it up to be. We put behind the word ‘tree’ all of the thoughts, memories, feelings, prejudices, good and bad experiences that we have had in our dealings with ‘trees’. In order to find the truth about whatever we are observing we need to just be with the tree and observe without the filter of the past. Observe it right now, presently, in it’s totality.

Other examples were: He brought up the notion that husband and wife are on two parallel train tracks chugging down the tracks. They sometimes reach over and kiss, caress, or connect in some way–but they are not ‘as one’ because each lives with this idea of their selves (self-concept or ego) which they have sought to maintain over the years. This is not the individuals total self! It is only that representation of self that one has chosen to hold onto because it serves the ‘self’ well during it’s time here on earth In the present day society that it happens to be in. So, each individual is dealing with the image of the ideal self of the other and vice-versa.

JK said that conflict occurs when there is a difference between ‘what is’ and ‘what ought to be’. We as humans think we know what is and what ought to be and so therefore we are forever in conflict because of our ignorance. The ‘what is’ cannot be known except by careful observation like described above. It is only when we can forget all past ‘knowledge’ and observe a problem or situation with a freshness and a newness that truth can be known. Nobody takes the time to do this now. The ‘what ought to be’ is not our idea (though they have been internalized over the years by society’s indoctrination) though we believe that it is because we have not observed the truth without the filter of the past.

Buddha – What He Did… Who He Is

Buddha – what he did, who he is… and my own experiences…

[Some free-thinking on the buddha, meditation, vipassana, buddhism, all ‘isms’, and my own personal experiences…]

i’m thinking today as i usually think… any person here is just a person. Nobody better than anyone else for any reason, real or imagined. There is no supernatural… no god here on earth… at least there isn’t a good god here among us or accessible by us or to us because he/she couldn’t possibly stand all the silliness and sickness going on here. So – everyone is just a person.

The Buddha was just a person. He was a person that, if you believe what has been written, found a way to release himself from the bondage of the mind so to speak… the bondage of society… and the human condition which is suffering because of attachment to things, ideas, beliefs, traditions, memory, etc.

What he did was find a way to still the mind… to watch the breath until thought slowed… then ceased. Once thought ceased he went through what he called different levels (or hierarchies)… called jhanas… to him the jhanas were acquired in a certain order and there were very definite rules about how they were found… he went about his meditations in the same way each time and went through the levels in a way that he remembered and that he taught others as the way to go about it.

Many millions of people believe the scripts written about the process of going through the jhanas as according to the buddha. Many people have a very closed mind about the meditation process and how to go about it… many INSIST that the only way to go about it is the way this man did it thousands of years ago – EXACTLY the same way… and it’s quite silly really. It’s quite silly that people don’t open their mind to some very real and simple possibilities…

Number one silly belief is that the buddha found the one and only way, path, or roadmap to reach what everyone calls “nibbana” or “enlightenment”.

Because one person did it this way merely shows us that to GET THERE is possible. When explorers sailed for new worlds across the globe and they found a way to arrive somewhere – they plotted where they went and how they got there. There were later found THOUSANDS and literally endless ways to arrive at the same places. The way to creating happiness in one’s life can be found many thousands of ways… and there is no one path.

The roadmap to nibanna can be the same way… many, many paths to get there. Humans, being what they are love to believe they have the monopoly on the “right way” to do something. We love to believe we have an exclusive on the way to do something, on the best way, a monopoly on the truth… We’re searching for power… for status… knowing the “BEST” way can give us some of that in others’ eyes… so we love to have it. Even those that portray themselves as unconcerned about status or power are eager to separate themselves under different sets of beliefs and hold them as more important, more moral… than others’ beliefs… monks for instance… christians for instance… yogis for instance… virtually anyone that believes strongly in any religion for instance…

I’ve been led to some ideas that i can’t ignore anymore and that I want to think about out-loud as I write. These are things I’ve been thinking about for years and yet i’ve not been bold enough to write them down like this until now. I’ve kind of come up against some things I can’t explain any other way – except the way I’m about to do it… and it may sound to you as if the writer is making bold statements because you don’t know him. You are hearing everything for the first time and to accept that the writer has gone to a place that the buddha and only a few others’ have been might be quite a large leap of faith for you… no worries, whether you believe or don’t believe really isn’t the point of writing it… it’s just to offer a possibility for you… to see if you might be able to question some long-held beliefs.

If you’ve read this far into this, i’m guessing you are a meditator of some sort. There must be some real interest in the topic. Maybe you hold tight to some beliefs about Buddhism or other ism that has led you up to the point you are today. Maybe you are eager to read about something that contradicts what you’ve read and believe in so firmly – so you can send the writer email about what this text states and that text states…

And this writer has little interest in what texts state what… and for you to care about what books say and what teachers talking about things that happened many hundreds and thousands of years ago is quite silly… the truth is what we can experience now. Well, the closest thing to the objective truth for us… If you live your life according to what others told you and what you’ve read you are living in a world of 2nd or 3rd order truth that probably resembles nothing of the truth for you today at this point in reality.

If you’d like to read along, feel free. I’m writing mostly for me but there may be someone who gets something out of seeing it as well – so it’s easy enough to write this in a web publishing program as it is to write it in a word processing program…

I want to go over some ideas that i’ve been thinking about for years that i am today, just coming to accept as valid… or probably valid…

The first idea is that there is not just one way to meditate and be mindful and reach nirvana. The buddhists don’t have a monopoly on it. The kundalini practitioners don’t have a monopoly on it. The vipassanaists don’t have a monopoly on it. Nobody does. It’s a state that is reachable. That’s as much as i can believe. I don’t believe it because I’ve read it about a man that reached it thousands of years ago. I believe it because I’ve experienced it… a glimpse of it perhaps… but a life-changing glimpse nonetheless.

There may be countless ways to come upon this state… or, there may be just two or three other ways. Who can be sure? After reading about ONE person being able to reach the state, we cannot be sure that there is only one way to get there.

I do believe that it doesn’t matter at all whether one sits, stands, walks, lays down, sits leaning against a pillar, sits on a sofa, sits on a zafu, sits on a wooden chair or using any other posture. I find that I’m able to reach states where thought stops while walking, laying, sitting in a reclining chair, sitting in a half-lotus position on a hard floor, or sitting on a zafu and leaning against a bed, couch, wall, or pillar. I know this and I am positive that I have experienced this. I directly experienced it. Direct experience is the highest of truths…. so I’m as sure as I can be that advanced states can be reached in these postures. And, if advanced states can be reached in those postures, then going the distance can likely be reached in any of those postures.

Focusing on the breath is an excellent way to begin meditation. But, like everything else… once it serves it’s purpose, it can be thrown away like everything else… there are many tools we can use during meditation – and then the tools must be dropped as we go further. I say “must be” because what i’ve noticed over the years is further movement is seen only when dropping attachment to whatever it is that one is attached to at the time.

Focusing on the breath is a good way to train the mind to eventually experience stillness. Once the stillness can be experienced then focusing on the breathing can stop. If it does not stop, I believe that meditators become stuck like hundreds of thousands of buddhist monks, and other meditators that report reaching states of bliss and joy… and other experiences indicative of the early jhanas… and yet they stay there forever because they are still focusing on breathing or on other rules of practice that someone has told them – some hierarchy of steps that needs to be traveled each time while meditating… and they are stuck right there. There is no more movement… they are stuck because they are stuck in the process… in the instructions… and being caught in the instructions, they are terminally stuck. The buddhists and other styles or forms of meditation are usually strict about what is to happen…. this then that, THEN that, THEN that, and then this and that.

Once caught in that set of instructions and once one takes it as absolute truth…. that person is going to become more and more stuck as he/she researches more information about the ‘right’ way to meditate… and finds more and more information – more details to pay attention to… more rules… more serious people about the process to tell them how to follow the rules more strictly…

Before the meditator knows it years have passed… and the beliefs about the RIGHT way to meditate have been reinforced over those years… Once these beliefs that cause someone to be STUCK are reinforced for 5 years, 10, 20, 30 years… the person has little chance of breaking out of the holding pattern. There might be nothing that will break that person out of being stuck at that point. There are monks that have been monks for 40 years and more that are right where they were 35 years ago and right where they’ll be as they pass… the first few levels of jhana.

When i started meditation by focusing on the breath I found the first few levels of jhana within about 2 months of starting. My “practice” consisted of sitting, focusing on breath, and re-directing the attention back to the breath when thoughts hijacked attention for a millisecond or for minutes at a time. At times I focused on pains, mosquitoes or other flies landing on me and biting me… spiders or ants crawling on me… hot feelings, cold feelings, tension, anger and other emotions… I watched all sensations at one time or another – and yet the majority of time was spent focusing on the breath and re-directing errant thought back to the breath…

Once full attention was able to be sustained on the breath there were other goings on that were noted… very few of which I’ve seen written on the internet… and i’ve done many google searches during my attempts to find someone writing about their similar experiences.

During the 10 or 11 months of my meditation i kept one idea as a central theme… don’t attach to anything.

That one idea seems to have a lot of validity…

Once I reached the point where the mind quieted down and stopped there was no need to focus attention on breathing. There was no need to focus attention on anything that came from the ‘me’. There are many instructions flying around about what to do in order to go progressively through the jhanas… and I didn’t follow any of them. There are things one can focus on – thoughts – ideas… and so, so many things… and I didn’t.

I just kept a blank mind – free of thought, free of pain, of any disturbance… and I let whatever come, come. And many forms of mind-candy came…. and they went… and they came back sometimes, and then they went away.

And I didn’t read books about what process to follow… I didn’t read about jhanas at that time. I didn’t want someone to tell me what to do at that point. I didn’t want to follow what the buddha did or said… it was so regimented… I wanted to do it LIKE the Buddha did… and yet not try to follow his steps precisely. I think it was right for him – but my way might come about differently – i wanted to give it that option.

I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about how long sitting sessions needed to be… or if they needed to be everyday or twice per day. I didn’t follow anyone’s suggestions about things one “must” do to purify one’s self before being able to progress through the jhanas…

And so when I meditated i just sat and had a blank mind… an attentive mind… a mind that was alive and vibrant… not muted by some trance-like state… the mind was very awake… there was not this “lost time” phenomena that can occur when one is just sort of ‘blanked-out’ and in a trance like state… time was able to be experienced if one wanted to experience it – and it wasn’t a perfect experience of it but one could guess at the end of a session how long one had sat and be within 10-15 minutes of the clock-time…

So, the me sat with a thought-less mind… and the most incredible, MINDBLOWING sensations came over me during that time… sometimes the experience was so strong that the after-effect lasted for hours afterward… and overall it was the most peaceful experience ever… some of the experiences i’ve posted to this site – and can be read at the main index page… … there were blissful states… so blissful that tears poured… there were states in which one felt solid as a rock… immovable… imperturbable… equanimous… solid… states where one felt connected with the entire universe – or all that “is”… states in which a merging… a melding of the energy of the body with the cosmic energy was experienced… (for lack of better words to describe)… there were states in which the body felt like it was transforming – sometimes into amorphous shapes… (a cone of focused energy)… sometimes into shapes that were constantly changing – like a force field… or growing outward to encompass more space… there were times when the mind felt as if it was expanding it’s consciousness to include more mass… more area… or as if it had less boundaries… and then no boundaries… There were so many experiences that were so completely beyond words that, as much as one writes about it – little is actually revealed…

there were whole months of experiences that occurred during a time in which there was no conscious desire to record any of what was happening… there was no desire for anything at all really and the journal wasn’t kept… memory was still functioning – the me remembers much of what happened and what was felt during those last maybe 2 months in which all writing stopped, working stopped, talking stopped, and the me stopped engaging in anything of what it did previously, and a time in which interest in everything was lost… after about 6 months of meditating there was this disenchantment with everything – the term came from a book, but it fit the process perfectly… there was a disenchantment with EVERYTHING.

There was a loss of the ego… there was very little of the ‘me’ left at that point. it appeared to me that there was NONE of it left, though it was still there behind the scenes I imagine because it came back in a year or so after I stopped meditating completely.

At this point – this point of no “me”… of no desire… of total disenchantment with everything that was previously part of the ‘me’ in the past… there arose fear – a question – that maybe this was not at all the right thing happening… after all, i was not following the buddhist way to go about this – not exactly… not as prescribed exactly by the buddha which is how most people want to go about it… there was no step-by-step outline I was following… i was mostly just going by one thing i had read in a vipassana book (SN Goenka’s) that said to not attach to anything as you meditate… at least i think it came from there – i’m only about 55% sure it came from there…

So, the thought that became prevalent was… maybe this was the me losing his mind… not just his ego… the changes that took place within this body were so catastrophic… so complete… so POWERFUL that there was no rationalizing whether it was nibbana coming or severe mental illness coming…

And so began a search among the thai buddhist monks in the area to answer my questions about what was happening…

The answers i got were profoundly inadequate… i came to understand that the monks i spoke with had not been through the experiences, the states of mind, the changes themselves… because they couldn’t relate to the experiences at all… I asked everyone I could about it and there was nobody that could give me some answer to my question… am i going nuts, or is this the road to nibbana? Nobody could validate experiences i had with similar ones they had experienced… i began to read some books to see if others had talked about similar things… and i found nothing… i literally went through the entire barnes and nobles bookstores section on eastern religion looking for someone relating an experience that sounded similar… and couldn’t find what i was looking for…

And yet, since i wasn’t following anyone else’s roadmap – why wouldn’t my roadmap be different? and i thought about this… and yes, it had some truth… but the question i was facing was a most serious one… and if i was to continue meditating without knowing where it was leading… without having the slightest idea where it was leading… then a very real possible outcome was loss of the mind to a mental illness…

and that just wasn’t a possibility that the me that was left wanted to leave open…

and so there began an idea inside that meditation was not really such a great thing either… the experiences were phenomenal – yes. The benefits to an individual that reaches nirvana weren’t really clear… this one couldn’t really come up with good reasons to go toward nirvana anyway… for what reason would someone do it? it seemed selfish to do so… yes, it put one in a permanent place of no pain… that much could be guessed… and it would be good for that person… but what good to anyone else?

If i had reached nirvana… then what of others that had known the me…? family? my son? my friends?

What of those relationships that no longer meant what they had before meditation started?

When i say that EVERYTHING was dropped… i mean attachment to ANYTHING and everything was dropped. Family bonds meant no more than bonds between someone that I had been friends with for weeks, days or hours. There was a feeling of a bond because we were human… and because we were on the same planet… but familial bonds meant nothing more special than that.

What would the future hold for someone that has reached nirvana but outside the protective umbrella of the buddhist church…? had one done it within their beuracracy there would be things to do… places to go… people to meet… advice to give…

What of someone that does it on his own? again, the idea of being labeled with a mental illness came to mind… and really, to this day the me can’t fathom what would happen to someone that focused on breath… stopped the mind of thought… went through the jhanas… and reached nirvana – all without being in a system of religion that would understand what happened… that would take care of any needs one had after reaching the state… that would sort of take over…

What of someone like that?

And still, no answer comes to mind.

And so some weeks were spent thinking about these topics… what is the point of meditation… and what happens if one IS on the right track – and actually reaches nirvana and it changes the me so completely that it can’t function in society anymore…?

And what happens if one is NOT on the right track at all and finds the me in an insane asylum of sorts… because nobody understands what happened…?

And so the idea that meditation was a good thing – stopped.

Meditation was dropped.

Meditation was no longer attached to – in any way. It was just dropped like the tools to progress through meditation were dropped…

And there was no more question about it… there was no more reading about it, talking about it…

Sitting stopped.

And so that was it – there was a decision made to propel one back into life in the materialistic society in the USA even more so than one was before meditation was started…

And the “process” just started on it’s own at that point.

The process is what the me calls the otherness that goes on according to it’s own schedule… it is like a corner of heaven dipping down to touch the me during some part of the day and showing me a different dimension… it is a feeling not unlike experiences during meditation when one felt a connection with – a fusing or merging with all that “is”… a connection and a feeling of “oneness” with all that is… and yet, this was not happening during sitting meditation with eyes closed and no thought…

This was happening during waking hours – driving the car, walking down the street, washing the dishes… eating something, on the toilet… anytime… and when it came it was as if the world shifted… or the dimension i was in – shifted… and it came over me – or came to me…

And the instant feeling of oneness and peace and tranquility and bliss… was unimaginable… and indescribable… in it’s simplicity… it’s power…

It was as if there was an instant knowledge of the way that things are… it was a knowing that this was as it ‘is’… and that it is OK… and that there was no feeling of “should be” or “bad or good”… there was no judging about things – at all! one could look at a person that had done evil things – horrible things – and yet understand everything in one moment – that the person was a product of the environment that he grew up in…. and that this is the situation we have here… and there isn’t a right or wrong about it – this is just “it” and how it is…

During these moments there was a distortion of perception of things – visual things – though in ways not possible to describe… one part of it comprised things that the me saw in front of the body seemed to come into the body as one moved forward… things on the side – in the peripheral seemed to blur as if merging into the body, not just passing by… and it was like the body – the eyes were just a piece of glass… that visual things entered into – and were absorbed by the body…

Another part of it was a magical aura to things… a slowing down of perception of time – or a distortion of perception of time… and yet this doesn’t describe it at all…

The process would come for seconds at a time – or minutes or back then when it first started, it would come for 30 minutes at a time or more…

Today is the 8th of September 2006 and is over 9 years since stopping meditation.

The process STILL comes to me after all this time… and for nine years there has not been meditation – of any note. Maybe ten times over the course of these nine years has the me sat and focused on the breath – more as a relaxation tool than any quest for nirvana.

And recently – two years ago I’ve moved from the USA to Thailand… and i have spoken to some buddhist monks that have explained to me what they believe i’ve experienced – and they have shown me pamphlets explaining 8 levels of jhana… and from this i’ve come to see that they think i’ve been through the jhanas…. the 8 levels… and though nobody has said it – the name “stream enterer” or stream winner is mentioned in the pamphlets… as describing what the me has stumbled upon… and still the process comes… and gives the me these crystal clear moments of pure experience that is untainted by thought… by memory of the old ego-filled me. and the experiences are too phenomenal for words…

And yet they’re not attached to – and they come when they want… they leave and there’s no longing for them to return… and yet they return…

So, this one has decided to start meditation again… and is not at all sure where it will lead… perhaps nowhere…

And the experiences are starting again during sitting… the fatness… the body expanding… the stillness of mind -the absence or stopping of thought as the mind slows to a crawl and then just stops.

And who knows where it will lead… certainly not i…

I’ve asked my friend to take me to Suan Mokkh buddhist temple here about 60kilometers away if she notices a major change in the functioning of the me… so, that’s as much as i can share right now..

Perhaps in the future there will again be no desire to share anything – to write anything about the process as it goes along… my email is: aimforawesome [[ at ]] gmail.com, if you would like to write.

OK then, thanks for listening… this has helped me to put into words what i’ve been thinking for a while…. there is no one way to reach nirvana… there is no process or set of rules for reaching it…

There is no morality that needs adhered to before practicing… the morality comes afterward… it is complete when it comes – there is no wavering… the morality is like a natural morality that comes over one and doesn’t allow one to harm others in any way… that is a morality that is beyond religion… beyond words… beyond rules… beyond trying… it just IS.

Meditate first, morality comes afterward… immorality cannot stand in the face of the disenchantment process… nothing stands….

Likewise… maybe religion comes afterward… maybe some ideas about what to teach would come afterward… after nibbana…? not at all sure, just guessing…

When religion comes first it traps one into a step by step process that actually hinders the process from coming… because there is attachment to the idea of the STEPS that hinders progress… attachment to anything hinders progress…

And maybe, attachment to the idea of meditation even, hinders the ultimate progress… and so when attachment is dropped -through disenchantment of the idea of meditation – then it comes… and on it’s own schedule.

Modern Day Dharma – Direct Knowledge – Is It Still Coming?

Toad at Wat Suan Mokkh, a Theravada Buddhist temple in Chaiya, Thailand.Ang Kek, from Malaysia, left a couple of comments on this site tonight and one of them struck me as profoundly important.

If you know me, I’m not the kind of person to tell you that my experiences of jhana make me anything special. Besides the simple act of meditating and being mindful of the present moment as much as possible, I did nothing to ‘deserve’ what happened. It just came… easily, and profusely. It was like I had opened a tap on a fire hydrant and the pressure behind the water… was pushing it all out as fast as possible.

I wasn’t particularly saintly before I started sitting to meditate. I didn’t earn it. I didn’t stack up the positive karma through years of great deeds. I had no clue that I would ever have something as mind-shattering as jhana happen…

Though, in hindsight – after jhana, I did realize that since I was a child I was experiencing a sign of something as I was growing up that might be related in some way to the process that started moving within me after I started meditation. Or, maybe more right to say – “to the process that I started noticing moving within me after I started meditation.”

I’ll make a notecard note to do a video about that. I’ve talked little about it, and it could be relevant – who really knows? Certainly not I.

The biggest difference between me getting through Jhanas and other people getting through them is that nearly everyone else that has jhana visit – knows exactly what they are, and what to expect. They are dedicated to reaching them. They have studied intensively, how to meditate according to some tradition – and have teachers and others that can guide them along in the experience.

Those that have jhanas come, have in their mind a complete cognitive schema for labeling the experience… they know the special names of types of breath, in Pali usually. They have labels for many of the feelings, experiences, sensory stimulation, and other things that go on.

I know very little of that. I’ve avoided knowing it – picking it up, because it’s not the true thing… At the risk of showing myself to appear to be a Krishnamurti groupie – the words are not the thing. It’s true though, because you call it dukkha, for instance, doesn’t mean you know it any better or worse than I know it… I’ve chosen not to play in the religious sphere regarding meditation and the experiences. As a result of that, I don’t often share my experiences in ways that that most people studying within some tradition – can grasp them.

Anyway, what I’m getting at – the point of this article… Ang Kek said something about Direct Knowledge. I’ve heard that phrase somewhere, and ignored it many times over the years. I’m not a believer in something outside of the human experience – something magical, something other worldly, something god-like, or something supernatural on any level. I’m just a realist, and whatever we can see and do and experience here – is what I believe in.

Direct Knowledge to me, always held some sort of suggestion that there was something coming into human heads from another world.

That was weird enough that I ignored it.

Until Ang wrote me that comment.

*****

Hi Vern , thank you for sharing this. I think this is the direct knowledge come to you. The next time you encounter this, you got to write it down cause that might be your job A’s one of my Master also do that. He write down all the teaching in detail. So please do that.

*****

Then I stopped and looked at those two words closely for the first time ever… Direct Knowledge.

Ang was saying that maybe what I have coming through these experiences is Direct Knowledge. That’s interesting.

Now it has some connotation in my mind that it means I’m special for it coming to me – and that is a negative… More looking at it, and I have to admit that things that have gone on after meditation have been quite astounding. Direct knowledge? I guess it might be called that.

I don’t imagine someone outside our world looking at me and others that are having these incredible jhana experiences, and sending us special messages of direct knowledge to us, or giving us the experiences directly. That might well be happening, but, as I said – what I can see here, and experience here – that is it. That is all I can “know”. What might actually be happening with gods, spirits, devils, angels, aliens, whatever might be out there – is all a big mystery and I don’t have any insight into that. I’m not looking for any truth in those areas – I think they are probably just beyond us until whatever time that “other” decides to reveal something to us.

Where I heard the phrase ‘direct knowledge’ before, was the dharma. Dharma is said to be direct knowledge. It is extremely important in Buddhism. Monks that teach other monks and laypersons give ‘dharma talks’, sometimes with parts of their talk comprising direct knowledge they experienced on their path to ‘freedom from suffering’.

Am I a dharma conduit?

It’s almost funny, if I wasn’t seriously asking myself this question. Does dharma come to us in this modern day? Or, is dharma only from the Buddha and other ‘accomplished’ monks?

Something that is notable, is that at the time of Buddha’s death – none of his words had been recorded on any media. Actually, for about 4 centuries – nothing was written down regarding his teaching. That’s 400+ years. How much of the original message was intact after that long? It’s like us looking back to the year 1600, at a person in history that made a big impact back then – and who many people followed – even to this day, but nobody wrote anything down that he said. All we had was what was passed down orally for 400 years. How much do you think didn’t get distorted? I think it’s safe to say, whatever we wrote down this year about it – was, in general what the man said, but not exactly. It couldn’t possibly be anything resembling exactly.

Is this a reason, or a partial reason, for the situation that we find ourselves in today?

What I mean is – how many enlightened people that have passed through human suffering and reached nibbana or anything similar?

Me neither. Nobody. I’ve not met even one person. I’ve asked on this site and some others – who is there? Who can we look at as an example of what there is to aspire to after a life of meditation… Someone points to Jiddu Krishnamurti, or Gunaratana, or Thich Nhat Hanh… I’ve not met any of them, but, are they Buddha material?

Still, how many people across the globe could hold company with these people? Another 100?

Are there just 103 people out of 6+ billion that have this sort of experience, character, _______? Whatever one wishes to call it.

Is what they are saying about meditation – direct experience? Is it divine? Is it dharma? Is it the absolute truth?

Maybe some of it. Why not?

I have this idea that jhana experiences and the process that started inside me is something that is available to each and every person on the face of the earth. I don’t have any experience with past lives and karma in my practice. I don’t know anything about that. As a result, I don’t believe any of it. It might well be true… and I may experience something related to it later on as I continue to practice, but at the moment – it’s just hearsay.

Just comparing claims to reality – I have a problem with people saying they are able to recollect 100,000 of their past lives, and even countless past lives, when they are not sitting there for years and years doing it – they just come out of one short meditation session and say they’ve recollected tens of thousands of past lives.

Yeah, uhm, how’d that happen? You were sitting there a couple hours… how many of those past lives were you recollecting each minute? Each second? And you were counting each one… How long does it take to count to 100,000?

How many facts about each of those lives did you remember? 10? Would 10 distinct memories about 1 past life mean that you remembered a past life? Or just 2-3 memories? Maybe you remembered your mom was named Doris, and you had a dog that you called Skippy. You lived in Mexico… is that enough to call it a past life?

So, I’m skeptical about some things I hear. If I didn’t experience it – it didn’t happen. I have to treat it like that.

If I suddenly start having my head fill with memories of people I didn’t know in this life, and each person I see in my head has a couple facts attached – am I going to start proclaiming I have had all these as past lives?

I kind of think not. Let’s see what happens.

I think it must be somewhere along the same lines as just “knowing” that these were past lives. There is nothing you could ever verify from these memories, but for some reason people come out of their meditation session – in awe that they were all of these other people in past lives before their present life.

Anyway, so, if we have a meditation experience… say jhana or jhana-like – should we be recording it in as much detail as possible?

I don’t know.

Is it direct knowledge? I guess so. It was done directly by us – it happened. I guess we should be writing down everything that happens – right?

But, there’s a problem I see with that… and it’s the reason I haven’t written down exactly how I’ve gone into jhana 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 etc…

Because if I tell you – you try to duplicate that. By doing so – you are attaching the idea that:

1. You need to do what i did, this is THE way to do it.

2. If it happens a different way for you – you might discount it – discard it, as not real because it didn’t happen that way for me.

That’s one of the big issues (problems) with why people aren’t getting anywhere during meditation. They are listening to a teacher or someone that has detailed every single experience for getting into jhana – and their own experiences are not following that exact same path. So, thinking themselves ‘wrong’, they either stop or continue trying to do what their teacher is telling them. They keep trying to get there the way someone else did, or is telling them to.

The other thing is… if I tell you in detail for 30 minutes or so, about each jhana – you are going to be blown away by it… and you know what? It’s totally impossible to tell you everything – to give you the feeling of jhana – it must be experienced. There is no way to put it into words that approach the experience. There’s just no way. So, I could write flowery descriptions of it here at this blog, or I could do a video and talk in-depth about the experience – and you would still know nothing of the flavor of the experience until you actually have it for yourself. When you do, it will likely not be exactly as mine was – or, you won’t remember it exactly in the same way – so, is there any sense in telling you in great detail how it all happens, and what happens?

Hardly any point, if I care at all about you also seeing jhana come one day.

And I really DO…

That said, I’m going to do some videos about some topics of meditation, some of the experiences, some tips that I think might help some of you skip ahead into the jhanas. I won’t tell in any great detail anything, but will show you the one key feature to progressing through all of them… letting go.

So, my question tonight – that I still haven’t answered, is…

Should I be writing down every detail of experiences during meditation or bizarre experiences outside meditation?

Maybe the answer is just to write it down, whether I decide to share it here, or not. Maybe I can learn from it – and maybe give a more skillful or appropriate talk about it at some point in the future…

Let’s go with that for now…

Metta,

Vern