this is a long post
This post is a labor of love, and it is received as such. Thank you, Sasha.
I love this post and completely agree with it all! A few extra notes, all of which Sasha will already know.
- My Zen mentor told me of an old saying - the Buddha is still practicing, as are the grand masters of the Zen tradition. They are still meditating, getting more clear on what it is to be human.
- So there is no end to practice - but as Henry Shukman says in his book (which Sasha put me on to), there are definite shifts, which you cannot cause to happen in any way. These landmark events are "enlightenment," or larger "openings" in the Zen tradition.
- There's a dynamic dialectic around striving for enlightenment vs not worrying about it (partly because it's just what's already there shining out). As Ajahn Chah put its - just another thing to let go of!
- Refined states (love, the jhanas, etc) are not the heart of the deconstructive path, but attention/concentration is unusually important for it.
- Eventually finding a teacher you can really trust is key for most people.
- Grumpy note, I think some autodidact meditators on twitter are very overconfident and should listen to the tradition more. Much meditation advice on the internet is bad, in my opinion.
- Slow practice can be more effective because you're living in your real life, encountering actual suffering, not avoiding it by going monk-mode.
I think my girlfriend already “pops over” quite a bit thanks to a lot of forms of synesthesia and an ADHD-ish tendency to get lost in the moment. And I’d think potentially people who are more schizophrenic than average (or autistic) could also be unable to ignore the vividness of their senses (usually to an unpleasant degree.) I’d be more interested in a “reverse meditation” for people who have too much of that state.
Well written, so thorough, and much fun to read. Thanks again for your contributions!
sounds fun tbh.
Nice post, I think this will really help people. I really enjoy your blog.
Re: being "done." In my opinion, there are many credible reports of people who have completely eliminated any sense of a continuous, agentic self. Thus, their awareness is just the unfolding of a process—just phenomena driven by the rigidity of causation with no one phenomenon prized as a "self" or vantage point. This leads to a constant kind of mental harmony. Sadness and anger and the rest still continue, though. Daniel Ingram is the foremost example of this. You can call these people "done" and "perfected" in a narrow sense: there's nothing else that insight meditation can give them.
I really enjoyed the post! Except “The One Thing” is not just one thing. But it’s as good as any for wording the unwordable
What do you think about the path (goal) of healing your psyche on a deep level ( purifying, releasing and transforming all your karma/trauma ) - and coming into “The One Thing” as a side effect of that? I think it can be a wise and wholesome way to approach meditation and there are some really good direct benefits from it - like becoming significantly less neurotic and more happy.
Thanks so much for sharing this, Sasha. I found it very encouraging.
I've personally found both Loch Kelly's "glimpse practices" and self-inquiry helpful in giving me brief tastes of (at least something like) The Other Thing.
I enjoyed reading this. Also, I don’t mind giving you advice to go on a retreat. I think you’d get something out of it. Just don’t go on one where they tell you what you are going to think or feel or give you a specific map etc.
I'm a big adherent of hypnotic meditation - essentially guided meditation set to a recording that's expressive of the physical changes that are to be attained in the moment ("Relax every muscle in and around your eyes etc etc."), and of the wider changes you'd like to, as put in this essay, 'inflect' your life with ("You are stronger and more resolute than ever before etc etc."). Sadly, insofar as it can be practiced independently, it involves no swinging pendulums or spirals-in-the-eyes.
I've found that the hypnotic approach is exquisitely harmonised to the purposive nature of the human spirit, as this piece puts it. Yes, you're attaining a fundamentally deeper sense of tranquility and physical relaxation, while aligning that physical clarity to a purposive clarity about things that are meaningful to you. I've known it to help people escape patterns of addictive behaviour; and while there may be no silver bullet for depression, it undoubtedly has helped me retain my connection to a sort of 'centre' that depression can otherwise conceal.
On top of all this, after an extensive period of consistent practice the physical ecstasy attainable during it is absolutely extraordinary, the closest thing I've ever felt to honest-to-goodness levitation.
I am wondering meditation got you thinking about how to best comprehend the massive system of conditioning known as capitalism? Love the writing:)