Lengthy: Analyze this!

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S. Pro, modified 11 Years ago.

Lengthy: Analyze this!

Posts: 86 Join Date: 2/7/10 Recent Posts
Hi all,

I ask you for some dharma diagnosis as I had some experiences/stage in my life that seem not to fit into any framework.

I´m a 35yo guy who got interested in Buddhism (and spiritual matters) at the age of 24 due to depression/disorientation. I never managed to establish a disciplined meditation practice over a longer

period than 2 weeks with a 20 - 40 min session a day. Meditation style is Shikantaza. Long periods of no practice. During my sessions I often had visual hallucinations. Vision fading slowly from

normal to "blackish" vision.
"Thy Eye is single effect" that is talked about in the bible (wherever).

1.) Psychosis or "spiritual" ego-dissolution?
At 24 I had a ground shaking experience. I studied law but was deeply unhappy with it (unsuccesfull). This caused a massive internal conflict since I knew that my life was in a dead end but I

ignored it completely.
One night I was lying in bed and the most dreadful thing happened, unspeakable horror beyond imagination. The "knowledge" that all my thoughts and ideas around me, my self-concepts and so on are

untrue and a complete dillusion. It my be hard for you to understand this if you haven´t experienced it yourself. Those thoughts were the truth for me and beyond question. They raced through my

head, repeating themselves. I absolutely knew that I was insane. I was filled with terror and fear which was just as obsolute and beyond words. I knew that I had to get myself to a mental asylum

the next day. After lying awake the whole night, sweating like hell and terrorized by my mind the first sunways were a relief.
I calmed down a bit and decided not to check into loonie house. The aftereffects lingered on for several months.


At that time I had no other reference than looking at it from a purely pathological view (=psychosis). After a few years - reading a lot about dharma - I came to understand the concept of ego-

dissolution in the spiritual context. I assume that spiritual issues and psychological ones go hand in hand. A Dark Night can have elements of or be like a psychosis.

2.) Various shifts in perception
I had various shifts in perception in form of a dropping away of a conceptual filter or something. I once was at a corporate event where I sat at a table. My perspective suddenly changed. All the

people appeared to be like innocent children. Not visually but how I felt about them. Everything was fresh and new in a way

Once I sat at a table with friends, drinking. Suddenly something changed like above but less impactful. People realised that something was different about me although I didn´t change my behaviour.

I was talking very calmly so not a "lot of behaviour" was happening anyway.

Once I sat at a table at my mom and I saw her thru new eyes. Interesting, especially if you think about all the concepts and neurotic stuff that builds up in families.

Walked down the street and got "thy eye is single" effect. Purely visual change. 3-dimensionality of the world faded into more of a 2D experience. Was still fully functional and could act in 3D-

reality.

3.) I once slowly woke up in the morning without really getting up. Half asleep I felt an incredible bliss which is difficult to put into words.

4.) Strange revelation which cannot be articulated. I smoked weed and suddely every idea/thought I had in my mind was completely wonderful. Those ideas
were related in a news sense and had a new quality, everything made sense where I wouldn´t conncect dots. I just came to me and I had insight into something which was always obstructed.
No particular knowledge gained (like how to build a spaceship) but just that "everything made sense". Accompanied by some kind of bliss. Everything fresh an new, absolute interconnectedness of

things.


5.) I lived in a hostel in Australia for a while. After the initial euphoria about new freedom faded I became more and more withdrawn. I had a strong feeling of the impermanence of my social

sorrounding. So not in the sense of single phenomena but more general in the sense of the environment of the hostel. People move in and out everyday. New faces that I didn´t bother to get to now.
Time of bigtime beer and weed consumption, extremely unhealthy lifestyle. Understood the unsatisfactoryness going hand in hand with this.

This time was also a time where I suddely developed a strong desire to go to church and a need for devotional practice. I felt very "christian" although I wasn´t brought up religious at all and

actually detested Christianity in my teens. Desire for a new (contemplative) lifestyle .

Later I move to Perth (OZ) where I had a profound opening which lasted for weeks. This must be the eternal love that is talked about. It was really unconditional, undestructible.
It later faded and I was - for no external reason - having violent thought. I never had these before. I assume they were an ego-repair mechanism. A guy in a conversation remarked I "have a heart

of gold" without knowing me. Felt like a saint ;-)
This was the most profound experience I ever had although it wasn´t accompanied by spectecular stuff at all.



6.) I later went back to Germany and walked through Munich after a spliff I smoked. Being at total ease self-confidence and light-hearted. I later went to friends to smoke some more. Something

changed, a bit of change in perception and "beingness". Sutle but ovbsious enough - I realised that my sister realised something changed about me.

8.) Kundalini: tried to arise it and it was weird and so strong I had to get off the cushion. One time experiment. Kundalini is brutal!!!

7.) Just a remark: when I meditate well in Shikantaza style it has an aftereffect. Trivial things, like a lamp on my desk, seem to bve more "there". I always feel that I never looked at them in

detail before. Colours, epecially green, are more intense.


Any input is welcome. Sorry for the lenght but had to get this off my chest.

Cheers
Sven
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Ian And, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Lengthy: Analyze this!

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Just one thing in passing, Sven, as commentary on the variety of experiences described.

You'll never get anywhere by mixing spiritual disciplines. Been there, done that; it doesn't work. Too many chefs spoil the broth. Trying to mix Zen with Christianity is hopeless. The two are incompatible. While you may not have done this consciously, it is apparent from your description that this occurred nevertheless.

Best to stick with one discipline all the way through and see how it works. After you've practiced for some length of time, from there you can evaluate it to see whether or not you want to stick with it or change.

If you are looking for a way out of the confusion and delusion you've put yourself through, I would recommend reading and studying the Pali suttas in translation (the Wisdom Publications editions of the Nikayas for English readers is probably the best and most reliable rendering of these discourses of the Buddha), as well as any helpful commentaries on these that help you to better understand what is being stated. The website accesstoinsight.org has many of these helpful commentaries from contemporary teachers posted in its listing of literature. Also, it goes almost without saying that finding a Dhamma teacher or guide that you trust and respect to help you undergo this process should help to speed it up immensely.

In peace,
Ian

P.S. Also, if you are using any mind-altering drugs (like marijuana, hash or whatever) you should STOP immediately. These aren't going to help you begin to "see things as they are" because they alter your perception of reality. Doesn't matter if it feels good. "Feeling good" is not a valid criteria for developing a clear mind and clear seeing. At least not in the sense that it is being affected by a mind-altering drug. Been there, done this too; it doesn't work either.
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S. Pro, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Lengthy: Analyze this!

Posts: 86 Join Date: 2/7/10 Recent Posts
Hi Ian,
thanks for the reply. I do not assume that I mixed spiritual disciplines in the way that I follow a practice one day and another the next. At the some times of crucial happpenings I didn´t even have a practice. But I do see parallels in different meta-frameworks (=religions).
But I totally agree that it´s best to stick to one pratice and not to jump from one to the other.
I also agree that drug consumption is most likely to be a hindrance, "spiritual" or concerning mundane issues. So I haven´t smoked weed for a long time and in the last 15 years I just had one phase where I consumed regularly.

Thanks & take care.
S.
Pavel O., modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Lengthy: Analyze this!

Posts: 88 Join Date: 1/20/10 Recent Posts
Hey S. Pro,

I think that what Ian meant by mixing practices up has more to do with explaining your experiences and your practice in terms of whatever information you came across in these different traditions. This can be problematic, I believe, until you are sufficiently versed in one tradition to know that you are not over-blowing stuff and that your diagnoses, explanations and views are in accord with reality. I think that it's really common for people to hugely overrate what it is that is going on, or happening to them, if they do not have an accurate framework for identifying what's what. It becomes possible to take this tidbit from Buddhism, that excerpt from Sufism or what have you, and to make up one's own version of how it all functions. I suspect that this would be hugely inaccurate (and unhelpful in terms of the efficacy of the practice) until one was very far down the path. The good news is that all these traditions do have sufficient maps (although I am only aware of the Theravada map) for what it is that you are experiencing (without any need to mix them up). Have a look at Daniel Ingram's Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha for a very clear and direct explanation of the Theravada four path model (the stages of insight will be of interest), this could be a very useful framework for your practice.

As for the importance of all these experiences (you call them crucial happenings), how much have they permanently affected your understanding of reality, moment-to-moment, and your place in it? Or is there some other reason why they are crucial?

All the best and have fun with your practice.

Pavel