Seeing the self as a body of white light in meditation?

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Michael O Hartigan, modified 9 Years ago.

Seeing the self as a body of white light in meditation?

Posts: 21 Join Date: 2/15/12 Recent Posts
Hello DhO!

I have been meditating on and off for 15 years, on for the last 3 years, and recently ahve been sitting 2-3 hrs daily. A month ago, I had an experience I wanted some advice about. Thank you for taking the time to read and maybe respond.

I was sitting with my eyes closed, doing bellows breathing with a slight pause between in/out and out/in... Suddenly, I was awash in white light. It was very pure white, and I seemed to be made out of it. When i was aware of my leg it was clothed in robes of white, and i could see the folds of the fabric instead of the leg itself. I say "when i was aware" because i didn't really look at it with my eyes, they were closed, but i looked with my mind's eye. The light was everywhere within my body that I looked, and the robes covered my torso and legs. It lasted about 3 minutes and then a darkness began to spread from my head and heart, where i have been working on blockages, and the light slowly went away.

It was very exhilarating and very calming at the same time. I don't know what stage or state it represents or what it "means". I haven't been able to recreate or re-experience it, so i am taking it as a signpost, but if any of you are familiar with this sort of manifestation, I would greatly appreciate to know more about it. Thank you so much.

Michael
Jampa Rinchen
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Nikolai ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Seeing the self as a body of white light in meditation?

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
What is the objective of your meditation, Michael? What are you aiming to do in your practice? Stream Entry? Other paths? Jhana?

If it is SE, treat the white light as you would any other arising and passing away phenomena. If you conceive of the 'white light' having more importance over other phenomena, you conceive and fabricate experience around it, and this usually leads to an unbalanced mind that attaches and clings to experience. If SE is the goal, observe it equanimously and objectively and allow it to arise, be, and pass away dispassionately.

If jhana access is the objective, you could try paying exclusive attention to that white light and use it as a kasina like object to hone your concentration skills. Once in jhana territory, you could then switch to discerning practices.

I'd say it is probably related to the 4th nana as white lights in the mind's eye are a common occurrence round this stage. Sounds like classic Arising and Passing to me, but I could be off. More info about what is happening in your practice and daily life post -white light might help diagnose better.

Nick
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Michael O Hartigan, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Seeing the self as a body of white light in meditation?

Posts: 21 Join Date: 2/15/12 Recent Posts
Nikolai,

Thank you for your response.

The objective of my meditation is, immediately speaking, to remove subtle obstacles from my mind and energy body. I don't really set long-term goals like liberation or stream entry, i just sit. I fit the wikipedia description of a stream-winner, but I am not making any claims. It doesn't really matter to me whether I am or not. I resonate with your reminder not to fixate on phenomena. I do not attach any particular importance to this manifestation, but it was unique and profound in its intensity, so I thought I would ask if it was a known marker of progress.

As far as focusing on it, that doesn't really resonate with me, and I see no real need to do that or benefit that I might derive from doing so. I can not recreate the event, and I have stopped seeking to do so. It seems a one time thing, and I am happy to leave it at that. Mostly I am just curious as to whether that is a known phenomenon in Buddhism. I have heard that in layayoga, seeings oneself as a body of light is a known phenomenon but I don't know what stage of progress it marks or what it means. I don't practice layayoga as such, I have just read a little about it.

In my everyday life, I have not noticed any profound before/after type difference in my mannerisms or bearing. In my meditation, shortly thereafter, I had a dissolution of self which has been suggested to me is a 4th anapanasati state occurance. It fits, since after that, i have been more open to positive emotion and bliss. Some time before the occurance, I had a profound kundalini experience, although I have had low level kundalini experiences on and off for some time. The profound occurance involved super-intense vibration throughout the tailbone/spine, and perception of lightning-bright light in the sushumna nadi and in my chakras. So its possible that the body of light experience was some manifestation of kundalini energy. Again, as with everything, neti neti.

Michael
Jampa Rinchen
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Seeing the self as a body of white light in meditation?

Posts: 783 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Michael,
Michael O Hartigan:

The objective of my meditation is, immediately speaking, to remove subtle obstacles from my mind and energy body. I don't really set long-term goals like liberation or stream entry, i just sit.

I resonate with your reminder not to fixate on phenomena. I do not attach any particular importance to this manifestation, but it was unique and profound in its intensity, so I thought I would ask if it was a known marker of progress.

Good that you "do not attach any particular importance to this manifestation." If you did, I'd be wondering what part of LaLa Land you inhabit! (LaLa Land being a reference to mental delusion.)

A "known marker of progress?" Not to my knowledge. But then, I was trained mostly from the Theravadan standpoint (before I began reading and contemplating the Pali discourses, which I view as being the most authoritative source of what Gotama taught). Therefore, you may or may not be interested in my opinion.

If your mind is being influenced by some other school or tradition (e.g. Tibetan Buddhism) then all bets are off! And you might be being led into a multitude of "mind bending" directions all leading NoWhere, most of which have little to do with what Gotama taught! (This is not to disparage ALL of Tibetan Buddhist methodology of teaching. It all depends upon whose influence one has fallen under. In other words, I've read one book by the current Dalai Lama in which he mirrored what Gotama taught almost to a tee, so there are some pockets — perhaps many — of Tibetan Buddhism that have gotten it right. My opinion only.)

Michael O Hartigan:

As far as focusing on it, that doesn't really resonate with me, and I see no real need to do that or benefit that I might derive from doing so. I can not recreate the event, and I have stopped seeking to do so. It seems a one time thing, and I am happy to leave it at that.

This impression is a correct impression and conclusion at which to have arrived. Mind made phenomena are really nothing at all to be impressed by or to be asking questions about. Good that you were able to recognize this!

Michael O Hartigan:

Mostly I am just curious as to whether that is a known phenomenon in Buddhism. I have heard that in layayoga, seeings oneself as a body of light is a known phenomenon but I don't know what stage of progress it marks or what it means. I don't practice layayoga as such, I have just read a little about it.

As stated before, not a known phenomenon in Buddhist circles. If Buddhism is what you are interested in, there seems to be no reason to seek opinion or advice outside of that discipline. Otherwise, one is asking for trouble! (That is, in the form of establishing "wrong views" — according to the buddhadhamma — about reality.)

Michael O Hartigan:

In my everyday life, I have not noticed any profound before/after type difference in my mannerisms or bearing.

Not surprising re: "not having noticed any profound difference in [your] mannerisms or bearing." Why people continue to expect (or "believe") that an "unusual" meditative experience will somehow yield some kind of "life altering" change in themselves is beyond me. (Reading and accepting ideas from too many other sources, most likely. Been there, done that. It doesn't WORK!) If you want to change your personality, you have to focus on fixing the "wrong views" (i.e. delusions) that are causing the aberrations in thought. It's as simple as that! And this can be done in great part using the practice of satipatthana.

In peace,
Ian
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Michael O Hartigan, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Seeing the self as a body of white light in meditation?

Posts: 21 Join Date: 2/15/12 Recent Posts
Thanks Ian

although I have taken refuge and bodhisattva vows in drikung kagyu Tibetan Buddhism lol

and i often seek opinions and advice from outside Buddhist circles. Other paths have their own merit and advantages emoticon I try not to get bogged down in dogmatic fundamentalism. I think there is a tendancy to cling to ones path as correct thinking "i have discovered the truth" or "my guru has discovered the truth" or "the Buddha has discovered the truth" and thereby dismiss all other modalities of approaching reality as wrong in their view and without fruit. It is good to have confidence in ones own approach to reality and self liberation, but the aforementioned dismissal of other paths is basically a manifestation of attachment/aversion, the machination of the ego at its finest.

for example much taoism and some advaita vedanta (like kashmir shaivism) share the buddhist view of emptiness, noself, and impermanance. Thats a small example, in light of the tathagata's idea of right view. I have gained much from being open to the fruits of celtic, native american, jewish, egyptian, mayan, and other mysticisms. I personally believe that all cultures and their sages and seers were given a unique measure of the truth of the nature of reality, as befit their cultural filters and the language of their times. The tathagata did not invent the truth, he just perceived and described it.

but i digress, thank you for your opinions and insights

Michael
Jampa Rinchen
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Seeing the self as a body of white light in meditation?

Posts: 783 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Michael O Hartigan:

although I have taken refuge and bodhisattva vows in drikung kagyu Tibetan Buddhism lol

I respect that and wish you well with that. And having said this it should not be read as being condescending. I truly respect anyone who has taken the time to dedicate a portion of their life to the study and perfection of any discipline, no matter what that discipline might be. Every individual learns about the truth in their own way, by walking their own path. That's how one learns about what works for them and what doesn't.

Michael O Hartigan:

and i often seek opinions and advice from outside Buddhist circles. Other paths have their own merit and advantages emoticon

I was that way, too, at one time. After being introduced to Buddhism in college, I started out by studying Zen because it seemed at that time to be the most accessible (as there were many books on it being published during the 1960s and 1970s) form to study of what the Buddha taught, and, at about that same time, Taoism because it presented, to my mind, a kind of less politicized, less dogmatic, less judgmental, yet synthesized philosophy and therefore a more universal form of something that was in some ways similar to the Christian view that was held by the society in which I was raised. At the time, I liked the Taoist approach because it seemed quite deep, intuitive, and a positive alternative view to adopt, even though I sometimes struggled to gain insight into its inscrutable ways.

It wasn't until I began to read and to contemplate the discourses of Gotama that I gained an even greater appreciation of what this man had to teach. Because little of this knowledge had been evident in the Zen literature I had read about, or had been turned on it head, so to speak, in order to justify Bodhidharma's (the Indian progenitor of Zen) unique Zen perspective. Because Gotama taught one to look at and examine "causes" (or first causes) of events, both physical and mental, in order to be able to see and to determine their reality. And this was something that I, too, had had a bit of insight into. So it struck a chord of recognition. This helped to change the way I viewed other "religious" teaching, much of which focused on identifying one with some kind of idealized picture of what one should aspire to be (as in "becoming," with all that that implies) without providing a realistic pathway to its realizable achievement. And what Gotama seemed to be saying was: "Stop identifying with any kind of 'self-mode' and just observe what is simply occurring in front of you (without any ideas about "self" or "self-nature" — including so-called "Buddha nature") if you want to see into the reality of what actually is."

Obviously, I am speaking here of impressions that I have had at one time or another. I realize that such impressions can vary from individual to individual along with their varying experiences. As well, I realize that individual's can grow out of earlier impressions they may have held in order to evolve to a higher (or more exacting) perspective that is equivalent to what Gotama realized. The answer to achieving this lies not in more and more complexity of view, but in simplifying everything down to its least common denominator and in being able to view the truth for what it is at the level of "cause," which then becomes indisputable for those who see and realize this.

Michael O Hartigan:

I try not to get bogged down in dogmatic fundamentalism.

That's good and I concur. If you have studied the "history of religion" in the world and how and what religious institutions have contributed to the development of societies and civilizations, one of the things you should have stumbled upon and learned is the degree to which religious organizations have contributed to and been used by evolving political forces to influence mass thinking, and thus contribute to the social conditioning that we all need to recognize exists and which we must fight to overcome if we ever wish to attain to the kind of freedom and liberation spoken about in the discourses (e.g. the four noble truths, dependent co-arising, liberation from samsara etc.).

Michael O Hartigan:

I think there is a tendency to cling to ones path as correct thinking "i have discovered the truth" or "my guru has discovered the truth" or "the Buddha has discovered the truth" and thereby dismiss all other modalities of approaching reality as wrong in their view and without fruit.

Yes. Been there, done that at the foot of many personalities in the past. People can tend to become mind-numbed caricatures of those whom they follow. This is not, however, what Gotama teaches in the discourses. I have since corrected my views from their previous condition of delusion (although there is no way for you — or anyone else reading this — to understand this without having met and conversed with me).

Michael O Hartigan:

It is good to have confidence in ones own approach to reality and self liberation, but the aforementioned dismissal of other paths is basically a manifestation of attachment/aversion, the machination of the ego at its finest.

Yes. You are free to choose to view it in that manner if you please.

But have you considered that it could also be the result of "the school of hard knocks," of direct and personal experience with what works as opposed to what does not work at relieving suffering in the world and within one's life. Such confidence is born from positively KNOWING what is true as opposed to what one may have at one time been deluded into THINKING was true.

A good book to read about this subject is Bhikku Nanananda's Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought. A very good explanation about what Gotama was getting at with regard to the proliferation of thought of which an undisciplined mind is capable.

Michael O Hartigan:

for example much taoism and some advaita vedanta (like kashmir shaivism) share the buddhist view of emptiness, noself, and impermanence. Thats a small example, in light of the tathagata's idea of right view. I have gained much from being open to the fruits of celtic, native american, jewish, egyptian, mayan, and other mysticisms. I personally believe that all cultures and their sages and seers were given a unique measure of the truth of the nature of reality, as befit their cultural filters and the language of their times. The tathagata did not invent the truth, he just perceived and described it.

Yes, and he described it better than most others were able to, in my humble opinion. Not that there doesn't exist many valuable parallels between the various teachings of each pathway. All teachings that aspire to be judged as being universal need to agree on essential points common in all humanity no matter what their cultural origin. Even so, one still needs to be able to separate what is universally true from what is merely superstition. And in this latter endeavor, Gotama was at a level wherein it is difficult for me to find an equal. Certainly not Yeshua or even Lao Tzu (although of the two I prefer Lao Tzu).

Yet, here, we are veering off into a matter dependent upon the degree of accuracy and agreement of the perception one has, which, in view of the medium chosen for communication, can be fraught with inaccuracies and misunderstandings. Perhaps a good place to leave it at an end. . . .
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Michael O Hartigan, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Seeing the self as a body of white light in meditation?

Posts: 21 Join Date: 2/15/12 Recent Posts
Thanks for your thoughtful reply Ian,

I agree that the Buddha described reality and the path to liberation with supreme accuracy, and that is of course why i am a Buddhist lol!

I appreciate your point of view, again, thanks.
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Michael O Hartigan, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Seeing the self as a body of white light in meditation?

Posts: 21 Join Date: 2/15/12 Recent Posts
laya samadhi?

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