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A strange childhood feeling
Answer
11/22/13 6:16 PM
This happened when I was 8 or 9, so the memory is very vague. If it makes no sense I apologize. I remember only what I believe to be the first time I felt this sensastion. I know that I felt it again a few times after the first time. But, it was shortly after the first, and I have no recollection of those times. I'm not sure if this feeling can be explained within a Buddhist framework, but I would appreciate an explanation within any framework.

I was sitting in my parents' room with my sister and we were talking about something. At some point the talking stopped, and I began pondering reality. What "pondering reality" specifically means at 8 years old I'm not sure, but I was pondering reality.

After some time of thinking I hit upon what I'll call a "block" -- it felt as if my thinking was unable to penetrate past that point. This block struck me as a curious feeling, so I wanted to push past it. I started trying to observe the feeling of the block and this was accompanied by a light to moderate pressure in my head, not unlike the pressure I feel when I try to concentrate hard on something. I believe I was "concentrating" (quotes for uncertainty) on the block -- on the peculiar feeling of being unable to penetrate past that point with my thinking.

After concentrating on the block for maybe 3-8 seconds, the Strange Feeling emerged. Here's my best shot: suddenly I felt a shift in perspective that allowed me to see (perceive? feel?) the absurd arbitrariness of reality. Perhaps the best way to describe the feeling is: "Why like this?" or, more explicitly, "Why like this as opposed to something else?". After maybe 30 seconds I released the concentration/pressure and the Feeling left.

Afterwards, I remember thinking along the lines of "Wow, maybe I just thought too hard." But, now I doubt the accuracy of "thought"; it was more like "concentrated". The Feeling was unlike anything else I've felt. Of course, I wish I could shed light on exactly what thought led to the block. All I remember certainly is that I was pondering reality.

If anyone can shed some light on this experience it would be sincerely appreciated, thanks! Also, this is my first post. Hello.

RE: A strange childhood feeling
Answer
11/22/13 7:49 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Hello Deklan,

It sounds like this was a significant experience for you. Significant enough to create a story about it, right now, build a "Self" out of. I wonder what the sensation of pondering the significance of this experience is like for you? You seem to desire answers to the why's and what of the experience. I wonder what having the answers to those questions would do for you?

RE: A strange childhood feeling
Answer
11/22/13 8:31 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
This is likely just thinking about wonder of existence. No meditation necessary. Just think about the universe and where it came from should bring a "block".

RE: A strange childhood feeling
Answer
11/23/13 11:04 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Deklan Webster:
This happened when I was 8 or 9, so the memory is very vague. . . .

I'm not sure if this feeling can be explained within a Buddhist framework, but I would appreciate an explanation within any framework.

I was sitting in my parents' room with my sister and we were talking about something. At some point the talking stopped, and I began pondering reality. What "pondering reality" specifically means at 8 years old I'm not sure, but I was pondering reality.

After some time of thinking I hit upon what I'll call a "block" -- it felt as if my thinking was unable to penetrate past that point. This block struck me as a curious feeling, so I wanted to push past it. I started trying to observe the feeling of the block and this was accompanied by a light to moderate pressure in my head, not unlike the pressure I feel when I try to concentrate hard on something. I believe I was "concentrating" (quotes for uncertainty) on the block -- on the peculiar feeling of being unable to penetrate past that point with my thinking.

After concentrating on the block for maybe 3-8 seconds, the Strange Feeling emerged. Here's my best shot: suddenly I felt a shift in perspective that allowed me to see (perceive? feel?) the absurd arbitrariness of reality. Perhaps the best way to describe the feeling is: "Why like this?" or, more explicitly, "Why like this as opposed to something else?". After maybe 30 seconds I released the concentration/pressure and the Feeling left.

Afterwards, I remember thinking along the lines of "Wow, maybe I just thought too hard." But, now I doubt the accuracy of "thought"; it was more like "concentrated". The Feeling was unlike anything else I've felt. Of course, I wish I could shed light on exactly what thought led to the block. All I remember certainly is that I was pondering reality.

Hello Deklan,

First, welcome to the DhO.

With regard to your inquiry about your experience having a "Buddhist framework" there may be one that I can speculate about over and above the fact that it seems to have been an extraordinary revelation for an eight year-old to have had. And, from my experience, not all that unusual (although others may harbor opposing opinions simply because they'd never experienced anything like that; however, that fact alone does not negate anything at all about what you experienced).

Here's my best explanation for your experience, and you can take it or leave it as you wish. But first a little personal background which may help explain my take on this. There were times, as a child, that I experienced similar insightful events such as what you have described. At the time I experienced some of these events it almost felt unfair to me, because here I was, too young to know or to understand what was happening, and no one around who I could reliably inquire into its meaning or significance. One question I asked myself was: "Why am I having this experience when I'm too young to know what it means? Why couldn't it happen when I'm a little older and have more experience with this thing called 'life.' It almost seems a waste to have this happen to me, because I'm not old enough to know what to do with this experience." At the time, I just chalked it off to the assumption that "Well, perhaps other people experience these same things and just don't talk much about it." In other words, this must be common to everyone's experience. It wasn't until later in life that I realized that not everyone had experienced the things I had experienced.

Now that I am finally a little older (quite a few years older, in fact, and more experienced) there are certain aspect about these kinds of experiences that jump out at me. By the way, from my perspective, you are correct in your evaluation and interpretation of that "pressure I feel when I try to concentrate hard on something." I know what you are saying and that same impression and interpretation has been my reality also (in addition to it being corroborate by other people who meditate or are familiar with a meditative/concentration state).

The fact that these experiences happen to people in their youth might be connected to the fact that when we are young, our minds (mental impressions and associations) have not yet quite fully developed, and therefore the mind is relatively unconditioned (if you know what I mean) by the world and worldly events and biases. In that state, a young person is able to see reality with fewer social and cultural biases to filter their opinion about what it is they are seeing. They see reality in a very clear and pristine manner (i.e. just as it is!). You might make the connection to the Christian saying that "you must become again like a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven." Because children see reality just as it is, in the same way that Gotama taught the Dhamma as being able to "see things just as they are." Meaning without a preconceived notion to filter the experience (to make the experience something it is not).

From my perspective, what you experienced as a child was an insight into the truth of the Dhamma that Gotama (and perhaps other wise men) taught. "Why prefer this over that?" In other words, why see differences in things that are not all that different; all things (and by extension, creatures) have their own distinct value (and usefulness). In other words, celebrate the differences in things (vive le difference, as the French say) and appreciate that. Because to become too attached to something always brings with it the possibility of dissatisfaction (dukkha) in regard to its opposite (or that which is different and hence perhaps not so preferable). In other words, don't let preference become a stumbling block to your satisfaction of life. Live with it and make the best of the situation.

Anyway, that's my take.

In peace,
Ian

RE: A strange childhood feeling
Answer
11/23/13 12:43 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Drew,
Actually, the feeling doesn't hold that much significance to me. I recently started meditating, and shortly afterwards I remembered this experience. Naturally, I wanted to check if it's a known feeling.


Richard,
The feeling of the block wasn't the significant part. The significant part was the Strange Feeling I got when I concentrated on the block; I felt like I could suddenly observe the arbitrariness of everything. Although, there certainly was a wonder component.


Ian,
Thanks for the welcoming. I agree, I was at a loss for the meaning of the experience at the time. Your last paragraph seems like the mature takeaway from this experience. Although, admittedly, I'm still curious to see if someone else had this particular feeling. I'd be very excited to read a better explanation of the experience from someone else and go "YES, THAT"

Thanks for all your responses.

RE: A strange childhood feeling
Answer
11/23/13 2:05 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Right on Deklan emoticon

I think I can relate the the experience. Like phenomena has no intrinsic value other than what is perceived, and once the perceived is perceived, the "arbitrary"-ness of phenomena becomes clearer. I can also relate to the desire to have others empathize and validate my experience. Your description of the experience may be an experience of mindfulness. As if you were dis-embedding from the prior judgements or conditioned perceptions.

The questions I posed were questions I would pose to myself in my own insight practice. Inevitably, the desire to "know" what is this or that experience, tends to bring up a "block" for me because ultimately the knowing is the process of identifying and clinging, contracting, and is unsatisfying. I have found the Zen approach useful in this respect. Maintaining an attitude of non-knowing as much as possible. Below is one of my favorite quotes.

"The mind that does not understand is the mind of the Buddha. There is no other." -Ma-Tsu

Metta,

Drew

RE: A strange childhood feeling
Answer
11/23/13 5:15 PM as a reply to Drew Miller.
best guess would be the first insight stage, that of Mind and Body, but that is just a guess

it is marked by a sudden shift to something cool in which thoughts split off and are observed and can feel great, as it has first jhana aspects to it

RE: A strange childhood feeling
Answer
11/23/13 7:03 PM as a reply to Drew Miller.
Drew,
I think you may have jogged my memory a bit. I may be conjuring memories, but I believe the thought was my own ability to ponder the universe. This calls to mind the following quote

"The eternally incomprehensible thing about the world is its comprehensibility." - Einstein

Daniel,
"There is this sudden shift, and mental phenomena shift out away from the illusory sense of 'the watcher' and are just out there in the world with the sensations of the other five sense doors."

There was a shift, and my sense of self did feel radically different. But, it wasn't particularly pleasureable. Dizzying is a better word. Perhaps I shifted into a weak form of the first jhana with absurdity as the object.

Also, thanks for writing MCTB. Your pragmatic but elaborate style makes a refreshing contrast with both restricted "mindfulness meditation" books, and books that pander to those looking for a quick fix. And, your book recommendations are excellent too. My Zen Speaks got here today emoticon

Thanks for all your replies. If I encounter the feeling again within my practice I'll dig up this thread and shed some light.