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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

Strange trip with lot of Buddhist signs- where to go from here? Dream Yoga

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 Hello emoticon I'm glad I found this group.  A bit about my background - I don't practice meditation and only had a passing, mostly academic, interest in Buddhism as a former East Asian studies student (but my focus was on pop culture).  You know, took some intro Chinese and Japanese religion classes, went to plenty of temples in Japan as a tourist, but not a believer, and practically agnostic.  In fact, I was pretty derisive about some of the things I ended up experiencing below.  Please note that I did tell my psychaitrist about this experience (very breifly) - she seemed unconcerned about it, so please don't worry about that emoticon I'm more interested in what next steps to take, rather than "what jhana is this"? etc., though I'm curious to know that too.  Besides the big goals I mention at the bottom (probably most people have those if they're interested in this stuff), I'm interested in dream yoga, as the only spiritual experiences I've had in my life prior to this involve dreams (telepathic/shared dreams, psychic dreams, speaking to people who have died [in this lifetime, anyway]).  Right now different questions pop into my head in relation to what happened and I try to research them.  Sometimes I'll momentarily feel like I "understand" something (in a way that language can't describe) as I did then, and I'll have a feeling of bliss like I did then.  The other day, this happened really intensely for a long time, after thinking about the Heart Sutra, and I felt like I was going back into a similar experience, and it freaked me out so I stopped it.  I'm actually really sleepy right now, so I hope this makes sense.  Thanks for bearing with me. I also live in the bay area, so there are plenty of temples for me to go to, it's more like there's so many options, I don't know where to start. 

I tried to explain what happened as best as possible, but throughout my trip I understood that language couldn't explain any actual understanding - so that is off, as well as the fact that I'm probably using incorrect terms, but some of them are words I was trying to assign to the phenomena at the time, some is just other flawed language, lol.  The timeline is also probably a little off as I couldn't really keep track of that.

This started out with me eating a cannabis edible that I'd had before with no ill effects.  I started to have your basic weed-induced panic attack feelings, so I went to tell my roommate so he could keep an eye on me.

Eventually while I was talking to him, I saw every step in the absolute worst possible scenario for me for this life (freaking out so bad he calls 911, going to the hospital, going to psych ward, and so on…) and every life to come.  I saw all the worst things imaginable, one piling on the other, because I learned that once you experience the worst thing you can imagine, you will be able to imagine even worse, and then experience even worse, and in this way you could fall into all the worst levels of hell.  I experienced all the worst of my lives and maybe others on earth and in the levels of hell (unending thirst, terrible pain, etc.).  Apparently while this was happening, I was lying on the floor screaming for about 3 minutes.  My roommate did call 911, but then when I stopped screaming, he called off the ambulance.
 
At that point, I learned eventually there would be no difference between the worst thing and the best thing once the absolute worst was discovered.  I saw myself in a world where people experienced the logical and cognitive fallacy where they believed if something was the worst thing imaginable, then it could not happen.  In this world, never seeing your family again was the worst thing ever.  So then I thought that if that were the case, the solution and the way to heaven would be the opposite of that, to build a huge family and always have them around.  But then I saw if I pursued that fully, I would be a controlling sociopath and a monster, and that it was not my idea of heaven at all anyway.  Then I remembered that of course that sometimes people are separated from their family forever, yet life goes on.   I thought I woke up into this world, knowing this truth that everyone thought I was crazy for.  I despised them for that. 
 
Then I went back in through all the hells again.  When I came to I was chanting “Amitabha,” because I must have known that he could save me from that (and he did!).  I understood I was not in that world with that logical fallacy anymore.  Not only that, but I realized that the meaning of “Amitabha” was nothing that could be defined in words intellectually, though we try, but was a truth of the existence.  I tried to put it into words, and though I don’t speak French, the closest I could manage was “se vit, ca va.”  I felt compelled to tell everyone in the world about Amitabha, but I saw in every scenario I could think of, in the end I would be seen as crazy and my message would be rejected.
 
 
  And my cat came to comfort me, and I realized that the opposite of what I just learned was also true, so that once you experience the best thing imaginable, then you will imagine even better, and then experience better, and so on.  I saw and experienced the light of each heaven getting progressively better, until I reached “Nirvana;” however, Nirvana was nothing like I had conceptualized it before (knowing little about Buddhism anyway), as it was all the good and bad things in existence together equally, plus the self being incomprehensibly split apart and dispersed (or becoming?) that. This was very disturbing to me.  I passed quickly through there and went through all the levels of hell, backwards from worst to best, to the earthly realms, and again through the heavenly realms, and through Nirvana, again terrifying to me, and again.  I felt as though my being and my body was folding in on itself and then reforming on each cycle. 
 
I saw the path I was travelling on, like a Mobius strip.  Where the twist was was Nirvana, and on one end the heavens (best one closest to the twist and moving out from there) and on the other the hells (worst one closest and moving out from there).  As I kept travelling on this, I would learn different keys to existence in the different realms, answers to riddles or logical and cognitive fallacies that would allow me to wake up from that existence and appear in another.  Sometimes people who had helped me in the previous existence would greet me in the next, happy that I had figured out what they were trying to say. Sometimes I could see different clues that had been left in my life that seemed innocuous at the time but allowed to me to “wake up” (like learning about Amitabha before it meant anything to me).  Then as I continued to cycle through this, I could remember what I had learned and skip quickly through or over the hells, and stay longer in the heavens, though I would still leave them eventually even though I tried not to.  I kept feeling as though Nirvana was not actually a place that was good to go to, but if I could stay in the heaven right before it, that would be best, though that would be very tricky and if I wasn’t careful I could end up in Nirvana or in hell in my attempt to stay there. 
 
Then when I was cycling through, I felt the highest heaven, right before Nirvana, as the exact climax and essence of the best orgasm ever.  Then I was in a human body, having the orgasm, and I realized that some people do that to try to reach that heaven.  Then I realized the ways that people have tried to encapsulate that essence to try in stay in it forever.  I saw myself doing physical yoga to try to encapsulate it, and though it was full of joy, it wasn’t quite right. 
 
Then I was some sort of monk (I thought it was Buddhist, but I was clapping while chanting, so maybe not).  I was sad because I knew I had been taken from my family, though also full of joy, as I was getting closer to that essence.  I was clapping, and felt myself become the hands clapping, and then the sound of the clapping, and then “the sound of one hand clapping” (or the sound in-between the clap), and I thought that’s when I would reach it, but then I saw myself as some sort of Native American (maybe Taino, as I am part Taino, and my father was escorted to the next life by the great hawk in that tradition – but maybe that has no relation), still trying to find it.
 
 At some point I started commanding myself “求道” (seek truth) over and over again.  Then I was a movie star from the 30s, dancing on stage in absolute happiness.  Then I realized I was not the actress, but actually an atom of happiness coming from her at that moment, but still I realized that wasn’t quite right.  Again, or maybe only at this point, I saw the different answers I had learned that led to different planes of existence, and what that meant for myself, what different kinds of people I would be once I realized each answer (spiritual guru, astrophysicist, etc.).  I could see my lives splitting in opposite and then infinitely subtle differences as I understood the multiverse and infinite alternate dimensions, and despite them all being “me,” which one “I” decided to follow. All the above – the chanting, dancing, etc., I was doing in real life, though I was surprised to learn that when I came to, since I thought it was all in my mind like a dream.
 
 I was still full of ecstasy, but I saw the ring of happiness intersect with ring of the paths of existence. I knew I needed to come back to the life I’ve been on, and so I navigated and calculated that intersection, down to the subtlest differences, until I reached the plane of existence I’m on now.
 
 However, throughout that experience I felt as though it is important that I find that highest level of heaven, or at least a good one, when I die, that I find a way to bring others to “Amitabha,” and to understand the nature of Nirvana.


 
 If you've managed to read through the whole thing without rolling your eyes too much or getting too bored, I thank you emoticon I'm appreciative of any insights.

RE: Strange trip with lot of Buddhist signs- where to go from here? Dream Y
Answer
3/8/18 12:26 PM as a reply to Jane Haha.
Howdy

I have had very similar and almost identical religious experiences both on and not on drugs, and before and after picking up meditation in a serious way. 

In fact it is pretty remarkable how parallel these things can go:

Hell and heaven, seeing timelines and possibilities, encountering my past lives, being saved by a buddha, and Amitabha specifically!

I think the most general and useful thing to say would be that this is a pretty straightforward shamanic trial -> visions of life, death, rebirth and in a way of the universe as a whole -> psychopomp/guide appearing kind of experience.

I think advice you'd get here for that kind of thing is quite mixed. You have a lot of people burned out or cynical about mystical experiences - in the anglophone meditation world - due variously to a spectrum of druggies who got nowhere or people trying to squeeze Buddhism into a type of (imo necessarily racist, imperialistic, health-fad, propagandistic) materialistic framework.

Tip 1.

Speaking more practically, I think you should read the book Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha and make a lot of room in your life to implement the Vipassana practices in the book. I was in your boots as much as anyone and that worked pretty well for me as a detour away from this beautiful, weirder stuff for (it turned out) a few years before coming back to these intense areas of experience understanding them somewhat better. Heaven states and visions are great, actually, but nothing beats Nirvana. 

I wouldn't say you should avoid the mysticism necessarily as much I as tried to for a while. If you've got potent energies helping propel you in productive directions that's awesome. 

I think the real danger of these extreme situations and liminal spaces is they can harm your humility, cautiousness. If your sense of the larger reality - and especially of how it is built, and how other people process it - is not very good you can get very deluded about what is productive vs not (regarding say "Amitabha missionary work"). Mouths, eyes, and ears are bound by demons. The universe also contains roughly the same proportions of heaven and hell - there will be innumerable beings in or destined for either. Or you're a crazy person. Depends on your point of view. If it's something you want though I think it's valuable to have a baseline of the magical view and to sort of "ease" yourself into that paradigm more in the different areas of your life, getting things more enchanted, naked, heavenlike. Sure still hang out with Buddha sometimes and have your eyes burn with the ecstatic glories exploding out from every spiritual atom of the universe, see and do impossible things, whatever. But without a subtler, deeper, humbler level of processing yourself you can't really integrate those kinds of experiences into your life except through trauma and dramatic transformations... which is not ideal for a lot of reasons. There's no real shamanic trial or initiation without real "danger."

Experiences of profundity can be addictive: let the world glow, but don't stare at the sun all the time, and especially don't vacillate between sun-staring sometimes and living in a cave for every other hour of your life.

Tip 2.

There are lots of spiritual traditions that provide good tools for looking into these types of experiences further. If you're interested in Buddhist traditions, in addition to the ones you are likely already more familiar with the Thai occult world has some cool partly-Buddhist examples in there too. 

For some bridges into "Western" / or historical and global esoteric thinking and motifs in general I've been a huge fan of the book Star.Ships lately and might recommend that as an interesting starting point. Lots of new things we're learning about the world.

You may also want to read Martin Coleman's book Communing with the Spirits which I admire, which can be used to think about Buddhist ancestral work such as is suggested in the Tirokudda Kanda. And reflecting about the Lakkhana Samyutta.

I also like half of Aleister Crowley's book Magic Without Tears which addresses some of these kinds of points with droplets of good theory, but in general masonic/+Thelemic styles of modern Western occultism are not very powerful, have neutered methods, are filled with bad scholarship and grandiosity, and have apparently low standards for both practical results and experiential manifestations vs most magical systems around the world.

Tip 3.

Dream yoga is good and so important!

I might recommend you read some of the books of Namkhai Norbu. I like The Crystal and the Way of Light. He also just has a book: Dream Yoga and the Practices of Natural Light, and others on these topics.

 
Thank you for your response! It's great to meet someone with such a similar experience!

You really touched on a lot of my concerns – Westerners Orientalizing-fetishizing Buddhism, or otherwise using it in sort of new-agey or alternative-medicine ways (which is in full effect where I live – as well as folks taking advantage of that).    I was raised in a new thought , alternative health cult, so that’s a big turn-off for me. It’s also why I wouldn’t touch anything religious/spiritual if I hadn’t had this experience, so I’m trying to stay grounded.  Also of course missionary work which seems totally counter-productive but is also tempting at times.
 
I don’t really have a desire to experience something like that again unless I really have to, so on one hand I don’t mind stepping back on the mystic side, though on the other hand, since I am critical of religion, I don’t want to get into something totally divided from my own experience, if that makes sense.   If it’s beneficial to have another experience, then so be it, but I would prefer it happen with a bit more guidance or in the presence of someone who understands what’s going on (instead of just my poor roommate, lol).
 
Thank you for all the helpful resources! I’ll check them out!