transmission

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transmission

Posts: 43 Join Date: 5/20/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

uhm ... so ive wanted to ask about this for a while, but ive had somewhat mixed feelings about it, perhaps because the experience was so personal and intimate, or more likely out of fear that you guys will think im nuts. but i figure this is a pretty open-minded place, so im going to ask anyway. what i want to ask about is transmission, in the sense of a non-verbal/psychic transference of experience (as opposed to the lineage-related use of the term).

a few months ago, i attended a weekend workshop with a zen teacher. on the second day, the teacher literally stopped my mind, taking me to a place i have only ever experienced in deep dreamless sleep and/or on massive doses of entheogenic drugs. no doubt anyone who has experienced this will know what i mean, but i can relate the whole story if anyone is curious about the subjective experience or if it would be relevant to the discussion.

my questions are many, but ill try to be concise and stick to the more practical/answerable ones. (since speculation about means or broader implications, while intriguing, would probably not be very relevant to practice...)

first, how typical is this sort of thing? is it just something enlightened beings can do? is it something just enlightened beings can do? is it something i should expect to happen during future retreats/workshops?

also, what does it "mean" in student/teacher terms? would/could this happen between myself and any teacher? or him and any student? (it did not happen to any of the other participants btw.) or more specifically, should i infer anything significant about myself or about this teacher? should i pursue further study with him? i would have some reservations about this, as i dont feel terribly inclined toward his methods ... but perhaps such likes/dislikes are superficial or should be superseded by compatibility at a deeper level?

thanks,
emory
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RE: transmission

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Emory,
What you describe sounds like "shaktipat" or "emptiness vibes" (since I've never experienced this myself, I could be completely wrong about it, though). It's been mentioned around here, such as in post #29 and following of this post:
http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/thread/2514206/Living+Buddhist+Masters+(of+Today)
or post #10 here:
http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/thread/2616968/Singular+vs+Multiple+Types+of+Awakening

It's an interesting subject, and I'm looking forward to more posts from experienced people.

Cheers,
Florian
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RE: transmission

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Hi , Emory.

I think the notion of "transmission" is mistaken in this case, since it implies transference. The notions of resonance and introduction may better serve the purpose. Within Zen tradition, such instances are by no means rare, and during interviews (jap. dokusan) many students have experienced shifts in state and/or awareness when confronted with a teacher. Further on, from the esoteric point of view (i.e. vajrayana) the shift is not a result of anything going on between two people, but instead of something going on between the "limited bounded space" that you recognize as yourself, and the unlimited unbounded actuality of Being. Whether any teacher can serve as facilitator for that shift to occur is for the student to discover. It's always an open question whether the same thing would have happened if you sat with just about anyone, i.e. whether you were simply ripe and ready.

Also, when accessing profound calm and clarity, one feels an intense "at home" quality, that can persist after and remain as a strong memory (a developmental attractor of sorts). It's very easy to project that quality on conditions in which and as which it took shape for you. This is tricky.

Now, even more important is what this sort of experience means to you. Do you find it meaningful and significant? Can you access this state/"place" through your own practice? What does it mean to you in terms of student/teacher terms? Are you drawn to pursue further study with him or to focus on that particular tradition and their methods?
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RE: transmission

Posts: 43 Join Date: 5/20/09 Recent Posts
@hokai: ok, maybe it was not transmission (im not sure what transmission is, actually) ... but maybe i should relate more of the story, as this was considerably more pronounced than what i would typically think of as a "shift in awareness".

so ... i did the first day of this thing and was somewhat disappointed; guess i had expected something more meditation-intensive and it seemed more like some kind of group therapy session. i wasnt planning to return for the second day, but ended up going after having an intense a&p-type dream involving the teacher. (feel silly saying this as im not at all superstitious, but the dream was quite powerful and was my first non-substance-induced experience of the deeper levels* of the mind.)

anyway, during the morning, the teacher made a couple of comments directly to me that mirrored exactly what i was thinking at the time. subsequently, i was singled out and reluctantly agreed to participate in a one-on-one dialogue-type thing with the teacher. this was not big mind(TM), by the way, but of a similar vein, and i was expected to "speak" from different depths of my self. i was more than a little skeptical of the whole thing, but not wanting to spoil the vibe, i was tempted to just fake it (as i felt other participants had done).

cont.
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RE: transmission

Posts: 43 Join Date: 5/20/09 Recent Posts
so when he asks me to speak as my "ultimate self", i say that i cant. so then he asks me to just listen as my ultimate self and i again express my doubts. he looks at me intently, asking something like "are you sure you cant just listen?" our eyes lock and my mind just stops. not sure how else to describe it, other than as a complete cessation of thought (much like the descriptions i have read of what happens during TMS suppression of brain activity). for the first few seconds, i tried to think of something (anything) to fill the void, but then i realized wordlessly that i didnt need to think. i just sort-of let go and instantly dropped through 2 or 3 levels*.

not sure how long it lasted (30 seconds? maybe a minute?), but at some point it dawned on me that i was supposed to answer a question, which led to the realization that i was thinking again. i managed a small nod before bursting into tears. im not generally disposed to public display of emotion, but i spent the next 20 minutes shaking with uncontrollable sobs. after recovering, i tried to ask the teacher what had happened, but he basically just smiled and shrugged, implying that explanation was not necessary or would be extraneous.
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RE: transmission

Posts: 43 Join Date: 5/20/09 Recent Posts
* as for the "levels" that i mention, im not sure what these are exactly ... something like "degrees of stillness" in the mind which, past a certain point, are discrete, distinct, and linearly ordered. (maybe they are jhanas?) before this experience, i had only ever accessed these levels via entheogenic means. there are perhaps 10 of them, and they can be distinguished by the increasing resolution of events and the gaps between them. my estimate of dropping to the third was based mainly on watching the saccadic movements of his eyes as we sat there with eyes locked. they were extremely slow-motion, but not quite frame-by-frame (which would indicate a fourth or fifth level) and far from the timeless motionlessness of the highest levels.
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RE: transmission

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: SoManyThoughts

I do love those types of experiences (the thought stopping aspect of it). But, being of a skeptical nature, I'd offer a couple of possible interpretations

1) Those types of group intensives can produce profound experiences. Everyone is primed for it by the deep discussion, the personal sharing, and the immersive aspect. A charismatic teacher greatly enhances the possibility of "something" happening for everyone. You're the type who would resist this type of group dynamic and assume others are faking it. Yet, you were put on the spot, pressured, confronted with this probably skillful teacher, and you dropped into a state you've experienced before. Pretty cool, but to me doesn't necessarily mean the teacher willed it onto you. Maybe he got lucky! If he was really willing a state onto you, wouldn't he have made you come up with some perfect answer to his question? That would have made a better illustration.

2) I do believe some charismatic beings can provoke altered states in others. I see this ability as existing independently from the value of their actual teachings, or even the level of their "attainments". Maybe they developed this ability, or maybe they just stumbled onto it-- who knows? Anyway, I'd be reluctant to want to assign greater value to their ideas based on this ability. I'd also be reluctant to want to attach myself to such a teacher. Seems like too much dependency & possibility for exploitation in such a setup.
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RE: transmission

Posts: 43 Join Date: 5/20/09 Recent Posts
hokai wrote:

> Now, even more important is what this sort of experience means to you.

agreed.

> Do you find it meaningful and significant?

well, the experience was no more than a pleasant memory by the afternoon and didnt seem to have any lasting affects on my practice or my state of mind. its primary significance was in assuring me that these "higher levels" i have been so enamored with for the last couple years could indeed be reached by "non-entheogenic" means. also, i guess just the realization that such a thing could happen (that another person could "reach inside my mandala" and affect my world through means other than the 5 senses) was significant as well, though im not really sure what to make of that sort of information at this point.

> Can you access this state/"place" through your own practice?

absolutely not. not even close.

> What does it mean to you in terms of student/teacher terms? Are you drawn to pursue
> further study with him or to focus on that particular tradition and their methods?

well, i guess this the question i most seek guidance on. personally, i am not especially drawn to either the tradition or the methods, but im not sure how relevant personal preferences are when it comes to this stuff. also hard to know how accurate such preferences really are ... i dont want to ignore a potentially significant learning experience based on an unfounded bad first impression.

-emory
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RE: transmission

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: sokyu

Over the years I have had three such experiences with teachers. The last one was with a good vajrayana teacher but not a charasmatic one. When I described a very similar experience to the one that you describe that I had had with him he guided me up from the chair and took me to stand in front of a mirror and pointed to me in the mirror. That was all he did or said. A very good move on his part, I think.
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RE: transmission

Posts: 43 Join Date: 5/20/09 Recent Posts
in response to #1, i can only say that it would probably be my interpretation too if someone else had written something like this. perhaps youre right, and it was nothing more than coincidence or luck ... i dont think so, but i couldnt expect anyone who hasnt had such an experience to believe otherwise (in fact, i might think them a little loopy if they did). but im not seeking validation or explanation and have no desire to convince or defend.

as for #2, im not sure i agree. in this case, im not worried about being exploited (nor do i think the intentions were in any way unwholesome). my concern is more with the potential for my own exploitation of such a situation for positive growth. to a certain extent, i do believe that higher state experiences can be utilized (motivationally or educationally) to catalyze growth and motivate more independent realization. i used to be a springboard diving instructor, and often the easiest way to teach kids (at least the little ones) to do new dives (gainers, inwards) was to literally toss them off the end of the board while flipping them over until they got the "feel" for it. i do see the danger in becoming reliant on external assistance (drugs, teachers, glasses), but it seems like such assistance could potentially be beneficial too.

-emory
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RE: transmission

Posts: 43 Join Date: 5/20/09 Recent Posts
ok, so thats basically what this teacher implied (albeit less forcefully) when i sought explanation. but its absurd to think that i made the thing happen on my own ... i mean, i wasnt even meditating. it would be like the teacher congratulating a mediocre student for getting an A+ on the one exam s/he hadnt studied for, taken, or even known about ...
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RE: transmission

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: sokyu

yes, exactly! Sorta like the part of you that you think is the real you left for a bit and was replaced by a wiser you. Which is the real you? Thats the koan. Bless you.
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RE: transmission

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
hey this is OT, but did you notice if it was difficult for people to get themselves to do things that involved doing a backflip? did flipping them over help them do it later? when you flipped em over, was it in slo-mo, or regular speed? did you ever flip over adults too? very curious.
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RE: transmission

Posts: 4 Join Date: 9/7/09 Recent Posts
"its absurd to think that i made the thing happen on my own"

But you weren't on your own. You were there, before a teacher at a workshop. It was a dynamic. This does not mean the teacher necessarily had some great power, or even that you should continue to go to him.

An example from my own experience. .. Many years ago, in the early eighties I was having a particularly hard time and I went to see Ram Dass at a teaching he gave to quite a large number of people in Miami. At a certain point Ram Dass did darshan, which meant he just sat there and people came up and , putting their hands together, said "Namaste". I did this and had a very similar experience to yours. It was, really, one of the (rather many because I'm quite old) pivotal points in my life. As Florian says, I experienced shaktipat. But I doubt very much that Ram Dass had any special telepathic healing power, or was even consciously transmitting the (small) enlightenment experience that I felt. What he was doing, precisely as sokyu suggests, was being a mirror to what I would now call my buddha nature and what he would have called the godhead in me.

I have never seen Ram Dass in person again. I was not then and am not now in his tradition. But I have always loved Ram Dass for what he did for me that night and I am absolutely delighted that he is walking again (he had a massive stroke a couple of years ago).

Hope that helps,

Mark
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RE: transmission

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: msj123

I agree with this. If it were the teacher, the effect would be universal. If it were in the student, it should be able to come about without the teacher. Therefore, it comes from neither the teacher nor the student.

I like the term "dynamic"--- it is an action, a flow.

I think Mark has given an excellent lesson in the "wider view."
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RE: transmission

Posts: 43 Join Date: 5/20/09 Recent Posts
> hey this is OT, but did you notice if it was difficult for people to get themselves to do things that involved doing a backflip?

in general, backward rotation is usually more difficult for "dives" (ie - head first entries like a 1 1/2 or a 2 1/2) since the kick-out is "blind" whereas forward rotation is harder if youre coming out feet first. but some people do just have more of a knack for one or the other.

> did flipping them over help them do it later?

yes, it can be a huge help, but the challenge tends to be mainly psychological ... so even just getting someone to do it on a trampoline first is usually just as effective.

> when you flipped em over, was it in slo-mo, or regular speed? did you ever flip over adults too?

usually slo-mo on the ground (first holding them by the hands and swinging them to bring their knees overhead), but faster off the board, since your going to let go halfway through. mostly kids (it was a summer-league team and 18 was the age limit). but there are techniques for doing the same with adults ... usually an overhead "spotting rig" (harness and pulleys) that hangs over the end of the board (or over a trampoline). but teaching an adult a back flip on the ground (or on a mattress) is usually pretty easy, as long as they are willing to go all out and not bail in the middle. search videos for "spotting, back flip".

> very curious.

why? are you scared of doing a back flip into the water, tarin? emoticon

-emory
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RE: transmission

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
no, im just fine doing it into water or on a trampoline, but im scared as hell*of doing a backflip or a back handspring on solid ground ;)

i've had this thing with imagining backflips (or 360 perspective rotations in general) since i was a kid and the perceptual discontinuity that (almost) always shows up in the attempt, so consider my surprise when one of my meditation teachers brought it up on retreat as a tool for sharpening awareness and for understanding something about the nature of perception and cessation (it apparently had been a big thing for him too, so this ties the tangent back nicely into the teacher/student relationship question your thread brought up). anyway, i have since then wondered if perhaps backflips are a common theme or motif in more people's practices than i would have ever suspected back then, not having ever made the association myself, and liked that you chose to use a story involving them as an example in your thread.

*i did a successful wall flip off of a tree once some years ago, to my astonishment, but then bailed halfway through on the next attempt and landed right on my neck. since then, instinctive fear factor over 9000
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RE: transmission

Posts: 43 Join Date: 5/20/09 Recent Posts
ouch ... yeah, the best policy with that sort of thing is to never quit on a bust ... unless you have a broken neck or something, always get right back up and do it again immediately or you will most likely never do it again. (seriously, theres like a cellular memory or something that will literally paralyze your body the next time you try if you wait more than a few hours after a bust to try it again.)

you should find a steep, very grassy hill ... makes slow-motion handsprings (going downhill) almost effortless. sand dunes work well too.
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RE: transmission

Posts: 43 Join Date: 5/20/09 Recent Posts
ok, i buy that -- that the teacher was only acting as a mirror -- but i dont think that negates or lessens the significance of the teacher's role. i mean, if it takes such a mirror to see one's own "true nature" (which it evidently does for me at this point), then it seems like for all practical purposes you might as well be looking at someone else's true nature, or at the mirror itself ...

on a side note, i was waiting for someone to mention ram dass. ive heard a number of people describe similar experiences to mine (including two people on my same weekend retreat) and in every case, the story starts out with "years ago, i went to see ram dass ..." so i guess he must be a pretty good mirror.

-emory
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RE: transmission

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: SoManyThoughts

Hi Emory,
I've had such an experience, but mine involved a swimming pool instead of a glance from a teacher. I guess it was less tempting to think 'the swimming pool made it happen" than it would be to think "the teacher made it happen". :-)

Anyway, I didn't mean to put you on the defensive about it. I don't doubt what happened to you at all. I thought you were questioning the role of the teacher yourself, when you said "should i infer anything significant about myself or about this teacher? should i pursue further study with him? i would have some reservations about this, as i dont feel terribly inclined toward his methods"
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RE: transmission

Posts: 3192 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Sudden silence, dropping down in levels, slow motion events, great stillness, staggering profundity, followed by energetic release, trembling of limbs, spontaneous crying, blowing one's mind, all classic A&P, that's all.
Sounds like you were ripe for it.
Then the important thing is to keep practicing, realize that this was just one stage of practice, there are many more beyond it that are not so much fun most of the time, and realize that it was just one more rapture, albeit an impressive one.

For those interested in more on Ram Dass, check out Saints and Psychopaths by Bill Hamilton, hard to find but worth it.

Daniel