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I turned into a wolf, and it was great.

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I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/2/14 10:47 PM
I have no experience with animals as spirit guides and have never practiced any tradition that uses them, but I had a very vivid and productive sitting with my Soto Zen group involving a wolf.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? Does anyone have some ideas about what happened? Any ideas would be great!

Sooooo.... I was at Zazen, and, probably half-way through the sitting, I saw a wolf in front of me, and he was sitting in proper posture for Zazen, paws and everything. We quickly melded - it became just me as wolf/wolf as me.

At first I was sad and my head hurt. Then, from my feet all the way to my head, I was warm,
safe, and heavy as stone. My posture corrected itself in everyway and
all pain left my body. I was not a separate person anymore, I didn't
have to defend from anything. I was strong and had all my feelings too.
I felt peaceful and connected to everything, but full of energy.

Ever since the wolf I have a new buzzing energy and a grounded concentration. It has really helped my practice.

I only became a wolf that one time, but the things I got from that experience have stayed with me.

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/3/14 3:36 AM as a reply to Rachel Lane.
Rachel Lane:
I have no experience with animals as spirit guides and have never practiced any tradition that uses them, but I had a very vivid and productive sitting with my Soto Zen group involving a wolf.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? Does anyone have some ideas about what happened? Any ideas would be great!

Sooooo.... I was at Zazen, and, probably half-way through the sitting, I saw a wolf in front of me, and he was sitting in proper posture for Zazen, paws and everything. We quickly melded - it became just me as wolf/wolf as me.

At first I was sad and my head hurt. Then, from my feet all the way to my head, I was warm,
safe, and heavy as stone. My posture corrected itself in everyway and
all pain left my body. I was not a separate person anymore, I didn't
have to defend from anything. I was strong and had all my feelings too.
I felt peaceful and connected to everything, but full of energy.

Ever since the wolf I have a new buzzing energy and a grounded concentration. It has really helped my practice.

I only became a wolf that one time, but the things I got from that experience have stayed with me.

Hello Rachel, cool experience.
I have no knowledge of A&P but everything  I've read so far points that you might have had an Arising and Passing experience. You practice Zazen. Cool. What does your teacher say?

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/3/14 6:45 AM as a reply to Rachel Lane.
What was your practice? Were you counting the breaths at the belly, or were you "just sitting"?

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/3/14 9:08 AM as a reply to Rachel Lane.
On Kenneth Folk's old site, there was a transcript of emails between him and a Zen practitioner. The practitioner mentioned having "kensho" experiences that involved turning into a bird and a dog. How a Zen teacher would respond to this, I have no idea.

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/3/14 12:13 PM as a reply to Rachel Lane.
Sounds like classic, fun, intersting A&P territory to me also.

I had a period where I had the experience of oscillating from being a point particle about 4 feet off the floor that could seemingly see in all directions and an "earthcat", which was some sort of dark-brown, large, ancient, panther-like animal. It seemed profound at the time, and sometimes I still get a bit of the feeling of that.

The posture correction, buzziness, warmth, and powers-territory experiences (merging with a wolf) are all classic Arising and Passing Away.

Standard advice is just notice it clearly as it happens and watch for what might come next in standard map theory, meaning some stages often called things like the Knowledges of Suffering or Dark Night, which are no big deal for some and a trial for others and everything in between.

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/3/14 12:39 PM as a reply to Rachel Lane.
At a Goenka retreat years ago, I had a vision of a white wolf staring at me with an intensely powerful, one pointed, gaze. I didn't meld with the wolf but it was a memorable experience.  During that period of the retreat, I was having a multitude of different visual experiences with my eyes closed. The visual field was strobing, arising and passing, like a movie projector, and images began to form. Seemed like the mind was attempting to make form out of a field that was not as solid as I used to perceive it. More clinging to solidity.

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/3/14 2:45 PM as a reply to Rachel Lane.
One other thing-- merging with the form of an animal is a classic shamanic experience, almost every indigenous culture has some variation on this. I recommend Michael Harner's The Way of the Shaman, there is a chapter on Power Animals that you might find interesting.

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/3/14 10:21 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
Thank you! That does sound interesting.

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/4/14 4:37 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
Eric M W:
One other thing-- merging with the form of an animal is a classic shamanic experience, almost every indigenous culture has some variation on this. I recommend Michael Harner's The Way of the Shaman, there is a chapter on Power Animals that you might find interesting.


It is isn't it ? I've don't think I've heard about this being something that happens in eastern style meditation before, certainly not in zen type meditation which seems (from an outsider's perspective) so organised, monastic and almost clinical.

So how likely is it that cave art, or carvings such as those on Gobekli Tepe and other places have such an origin - without getting too woolly about it ?

And is this sort of event also found in other contemplative traditions like christian asceticism and sufism ?

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
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10/5/14 12:23 PM as a reply to ftw.
My teacher smiled, and said "Cool. Wonderful." ? I guess that is Zen for you. emoticon

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/5/14 12:36 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
My teacher is very open to any experience we have during Zazen. He doesn't explain them the way people do here. I think Zen is just different that way. I actually don't consider my Zen. I just live in an area where this is the only sangha, albeit a wonderful one that I love and respect. There are other members that are Tibetan, insight, etc., so it gets eclectic sometimes.

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/5/14 12:44 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I've definitely entered Dark Night territory. It is manageable because 1) I have bipolar disorder, and the Dark Night, as you explained in your book, mimics mental disorder, so I know how to deal with it 2) I've decided to sit back and observe it, not borrow trouble. (I would like it to be over though.)

I am having trouble getting myself to sit and to go to Zazen, and I'm spending too much time playing video games and binging on Star Trek.

I guess you just have to go through it until it's over?

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/5/14 12:46 PM as a reply to Drew Miller.
That is an intriguing experience. I wonder what the deal is with wolves?!?!

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/5/14 1:04 PM as a reply to Stick Man.
I was thinking the other day - I do animal rescue, and I have this soft spot for the large, black-haired dogs that people don't want to adopt. Maybe that is where  my black wolf came from?

Still, I am going to read about shamanism.

I would like to explain the way I feel about Zen, to you from an insider's perspective:

"Just sitting" leaves you open to all kinds of experiences. The key is you just observe what is happening and don't make too much of it. The main thing teachers will correct is your posture, and then you are left on your own!

But, there is that collective energy of compassion of love that comes from sitting, and the ceremony (the other place where a lot of direction from the teacher goes on) has the same feeling. I feel like I pick up on everyone's energy/vibe/whatever, and every session has a different energy depending on who is there.

There is also a lot of subtle humor in Zen that is really fun.

I guess I can't say it is not organized, monastic, and clinical, but when you hit the sweet spot (of course, I can't tell you how emoticon) it is truly sublime.

Anyway, not lecturing to you, just letting you know what I've experienced.

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/5/14 2:04 PM as a reply to Rachel Lane.
Wolves are pretty common "Power Animals" encountered in shamanic journeys, I think there is something in the human psyche about wolves. They represent power and intelligence.

I'm reading a book on shamanism right now, and there's a section where a woman is explaining how she became one with a wolf in one of her journeys. She also felt extremely hot (A&P?) when it happened.

The book is called Cave and Cosmos, by the same author of The Way of the Shaman. I think both are "required reading" for anyone who stumbles into powers territory, which almost everyone does when doing vipassana.

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/5/14 3:24 PM as a reply to Rachel Lane.
I guess meditation is aimed at changing how you perceive things, not the content of what you perceive so zen teachers aren't too fussed about what comes and goes, and seeing animals is probably a universal experience for everyone whether in zen monastery or Siberian forest.
And posture is closely related to mood bi-directionally I think, so not only will mood affect your posture but vice versa and it sounds like the emphasis on correct posture is similar in a way to what body language experts teach about how to get salary raises from the boss - it helps set the right frame of mind.

RE: I turned into a wolf, and it was great.
Answer
10/5/14 3:36 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
Yes power animals. I've read a few books on shamanism including by Harner but never really looked into it and aren't aquainted with anyone who's a practitioner. There's the Native American thing about the vision quest, I believe, when adolescents would (or still do) go off into the wilds on their own for a while to get a vision to find their personal animal, if I have that right.
[edit Actually, looking at the Amazon page for Cave and Cosmos there's a description of several vision quest techniques.]
Partly I never really looked into it much because, at least, when I was much more into meditation the point was that these things don't matter so much so why chase the experience ?  I suppose that's an evolution of the sort of buddhist and hindu philosophy from the shamism that preceded it ?

Which prompts me to ask - are there people in tribal societies who eschew shamism for a more ascetic and philosophically pure path - so, say, you have the ordinary tribes folk, the shaman, and some oddballs who don't go for either but prefer pure contemplative pursuits ? Or do those people get run out of town ?