What do you think this was?

Ian Edwards, modified 9 Years ago.

What do you think this was?

Posts: 31 Join Date: 11/19/10 Recent Posts
Okay, so I've never been good at figuring out where I am in the progress of insight, admittedly my practice is far from consistent, so when I try to place myself, it seems like my experiences suggest that I'm farther along than I feel I should be based on my poor practice habits, if that makes sense. Anyway, I haven't been meditating much lately, but last night I had a head ache so I decided to meditate on the pain that was in my forehead. I started noticing the changes in the pain between each instant and what seemed at first to be constant pain in one specific area, became feelings of pressure fading in and out in different smaller areas within the original area that I felt pain. Then I realized that I was conceptualizing these sensations into pain. As I continued noticing them, I started to focus more on trying to stay with the sensations that were happening in the current moment. Instead of holding sensations that had passed or anticipating coming sensations, I was trying to notice the sensations as they came and went without applying anything conceptual to them. At first it was hard to keep up with what was currently happening, but eventually the sensations became even more broken down and the sensations of pressure in my forehead became what I can only describe as raw sensation. It didn't feel like pain or pleasure, or even pressure, it was void of any sort of concept that I could describe with words. With this change, the sensations also became faster in coming and going, and smaller but more abundant. At this point I realized that every sensation is this way, and that everything is sensation that is perceived, thus everything is of the same voidness but is separated and conceptualized in our minds because that is how we are conditioned (this is of course something I have read about before, but it is definitely diffrent to realize this for yourself, than to simply read about it). At this point I started to notice the other sensations in my body and they too soon became more basic and unstable. Then my awareness began to expand so that I was sensing everything within the moment as one connected experience. This state started to require some effort to maintain however, at which point I moved some of the focus onto my internal dialog. I seemed to be trying to describe the experience to myself, I'm not sure why, but it may have been some sort of attempt to hold onto the experience. As I noticed the dialog, it quickly vanished, and I was left feeling just as empty and void as everything I was feeling. I was experiencing myself, but in a way it was not myself. The experience was not mine, nor was it anyone else's, and I realized that what I define as 'me' is only awareness. At the same time I felt like a part of everything, no separate from anything, anyone, or any experience (this is my best attempt at putting this into words, but even as I type it, it doesn't sound quite right). I was then brought back however, by a moderately intense flash of pleasure that ran from the bottom of my spine to the back of my neck, aswell as in the pit of my stomach and in my forehead. The pleasure distracted me and threw me off course. I was able to regain my focus for a while, but I was soon distracted again by a feeling of restlessness. But what do you think this whole experience was? Thanks for reading through all this haha.
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: What do you think this was?

Posts: 783 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Ian Edwards:
But what do you think this whole experience was?

A vipassana experience (insight). It was what it was. You did well to stay with it to be able to describe it.

Exploring the shades of pain and pleasure. It also speaks somewhat about the development of concentration. Good concentration to be able to stay with it.

Other than that, I'm not sure what you might be looking for.
Ian Edwards, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: What do you think this was?

Posts: 31 Join Date: 11/19/10 Recent Posts
Thanks for replying,

Ian And:
Other than that, I'm not sure what you might be looking for.


Well, maybe some input as to where you think I may be on the insight maps could be helpful. I find it hard to trust my own evaluation of what insights I have, based on what I have read about the stages, because I find that reading about these insights causes me to search for them or perhaps even try to make them happen, rather than focusing on what is occurring naturally.

katy steger:
If "me" is "only awareness", how does "awareness" become "only me"?
...
What do you apply to transform awareness into "me"?


I could only assume that the false concept of "me" is the compilation of the aspects of existance that awareness is most explicitly and most commonly applied to. The aspects that "I" have the most control over, and that, at the same time, make up large portions of the sensations that are brought to awareness. Realizing that "me" ("myself", "I" ect.) cannot be defined effectively without using it in the definition, I would also say that the concept is self-perpetuating.

It seems that awareness becomes "me" when it is assumed to be no separate from the sensations that it is most applied to (eg. body, mind, personality ect.). But the concept seems paradoxical in a way, because we often say things like "I was scratching my arm.", which would imply that "I" holds ownership of itself, and at times we may imply that "me" is the body, while other times we may imply that "me" is something other than, or separate to the body.

I think the reality is that we are conditioned with the concept of "me", when our parents teach us the concept of separateness, possibly when we learn our native language, since language is basically categorizing and labeling "items". "Items", of course, are only materials that we apply concepts to, and even "materials" are just sensations that we apply concepts to. Awareness must become "me" when it is not focused and/or carefully monitored, because when it is not focused or concentrated, we do not recognise the illusion of concepts such as "me", or that they are even concepts in the first place. That is what I deduce about "me", based on the experience I described in the first post.
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: What do you think this was? (Answer)

Posts: 783 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Ian Edwards:

Well, maybe some input as to where you think I may be on the insight maps could be helpful. I find it hard to trust my own evaluation of what insights I have, based on what I have read about the stages, because I find that reading about these insights causes me to search for them or perhaps even try to make them happen, rather than focusing on what is occurring naturally.

I didn't (and don't) follow the insight maps as described on this site. So, if that turns out to be an issue with you, you may want to consult someone else's opinion.

On the other hand, it seems going from what you've written here, that you are very intelligent and have figured out quite a few mind traps for yourself. This is a good sign. From your description, I don't think you need worry about doubting your ability to recognize "what is occurring naturally," although I understand your concern about having some question about whether or not you are making these experiences happen. (I have experienced the same concern when I was going through this same territory several years ago.)

If you can hold onto concentration (maintain focus on the object) during meditation, that is the main ability to want to develop, and your description seems to indicate that you are able to do this very well. At least up to some point. The insights that you described about your awareness of "I" and "me" are significant and right on track.

Ian Edwards:
"I was experiencing myself, but in a way it was not myself. The experience was not mine, nor was it anyone else's, and I realized that what I define as 'me' is only awareness. At the same time I felt like a part of everything, no separate from anything, anyone, or any experience..."

"At this point I realized that every sensation is this way, and that everything is sensation that is perceived, thus everything is of the same voidness but is separated and conceptualized in our minds because that is how we are conditioned (this is of course something I have read about before, but it is definitely different to realize this for yourself, than to simply read about it)."

Having read about some of these experiences only gives you a road map to refer to once you begin having a few of these realizations on your own, which seems to be the genuine case here. I could be wrong, but your words, if they're to be taken as a true representation of what you experienced, certainly do indicate that the realizations are true and not the result of "wishful thinking" or "pre-conceived suggestion."

I know this can be a very tricky area to traverse, but at some point you have to begin accepting responsibility for the validity of the experiences and realizations you are having. I don't sense that you are mimicking something that you have read and are just regurgitating it back. The realizations seem to be real and genuine.

Keep working on this. And if you need some direction as to where to go next, I would suggest reading Ven. Analayo's book Satipattana, The Direct Path To Realization. It will give you much to reflect upon during your meditations.

If you find that helpful, there are other books I can recommend reading, especially Bhikkhu Nanananda's Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought. That book alone, if correctly understood with insight, could prove to be the breakthrough to a deeper understanding of the Dhamma in anyone's practice. It helped me to cement my ideas, a few years ago, about my own practice.

The keys are: being able to clearly discern the three characteristics in all phenomena (anicca, dukkha, and anatta), understanding how dependent co-arising works in conjunction with this, and mindful self-awareness of the significance of anatta in daily living such that suffering secedes into the background.

In peace,
Ian
Ian Edwards, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: What do you think this was?

Posts: 31 Join Date: 11/19/10 Recent Posts
Ian, your post was immensely helpful, thank you.
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: What do you think this was?

Posts: 783 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Ian Edwards:
Ian, your post was immensely helpful, thank you.

Glad to hear it. Keep up the good work.

You can do this. It's not as difficult as some might have you believe. It just takes patience and diligence to accomplish.

And a whole lot of mindfulness.
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katy steger, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: What do you think this was?

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi Ian,
and I realized that what I define as 'me' is only awareness.

If "me" is "only awareness", how does "awareness" become "only me"?

At the same time I felt like a part of everything, no separate from anything, anyone, or any experience (this is my best attempt at putting this into words, but even as I type it, it doesn't sound quite right).

What do you apply to transform awareness into "me"?