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Difficulty in meditation

Hello all, new to the site, I come seeking guidance. Thanks in advance for any and all help.

I've recently reached a point in my meditation practice where I've become very aware that the self isn't real. There's a growing understanding of this thing that calls itself "I" and the extent to which it is and always has been in the driver's seat. There is this sensation now of being in an almost continual state of observation. There is a sense of watching the self go about its days and not directly identifying it. There was a period of about 3 days where there was an experience of "egolessness." The self, predictably, tried to hold onto this experience and reverted right back to egocentricity. Now I let this sense of observation come and go; even that cannot be held onto.

I believe I'm at kind of a crossroads here. My awareness is increasing daily but the self remains. There have been a couple times where I believe I have experienced the "void" or nothingness. Each time I have turned away, I have not embraced it fully. I'm concerned of what's on the other side, and the mind is fearful. I don't know if this is "enlightenment," a form of mental illness (schizophrenia, depersonalization/derealization), and of course I'm concerned I will actually die if I let go into presence completely. There is nothing for the mind to hold onto and I predict it will dissolve.

How best to face these fears? How do I know if I'm moving in a positive direction?

Comments

  • RuddyDuck9RuddyDuck9 MD, USA Veteran

    There have been MRI's taken of monks in this self-less state of quiet which you describe. They come back from it and are more at peace and therefore more useful to the world because of it... there are significant benefits to being able to clear your mind so totally. Is this what you feel you are near to, or is it more like a loss than a gain? Or you're not sure? I myself have never felt this during meditation!

  • To the mind it's a loss but I believe it's what I've been searching for so in that regard it's a gain. My hunch is that I'm about to lose the experience of the ego completely and permanently. Which, as of right now, is completely terrifying to the ego. It's kind of stopped me in my tracks.

    lobster
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    I've heard many say that if you're using meditation to 'find' (search) for something - anything, that you're doing it wrong. Didn't mean to rain on your parade or anything. And I'm far from an expert - as if.
    :grin:

  • RuddyDuck9RuddyDuck9 MD, USA Veteran

    @dctufts said:
    To the mind it's a loss but I believe it's what I've been searching for so in that regard it's a gain. My hunch is that I'm about to lose the experience of the ego completely and permanently. Which, as of right now, is completely terrifying to the ego. It's kind of stopped me in my tracks.

    It's highly unlikely to lose all sense of ego in one moment of enlightened vision.... Your fear is generated of your own self... your imperfect, human self. Relaxing into what your mind means to show you is a good thing. If you see something beautiful, then you are all the better for it. If you see something ugly, then it's another opportunity to learn about yourself. You already know your inner self deep down. Most of us are not lucky enough to be able to face this self with or without fear. Embrace the new opportunity! Your journey is valuable!

  • Right. The "I" that is looking for something would seem to preclude an experience of "nonbeing." If there is an "I" looking how can that "I" transcend itself? I'm able to let go of this too, at times. It's seemingly paradoxical because if you seek enlightenment the very seeking will prevent the attainment of it.

    And as I said I kind of let this observation come and go. The self wants things... there's just observation of that.

    Don't worry about raining on my parade :). I don't think I've accomplished anything or that I'm "enlightened" or close to it - that's just a meaningless word. I'm stuck and I'm wondering how to move forwards.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited June 2016

    Hi, welcome, sorry for LOLing.

    Everything is fine. You are doing good. B)

    My advice comes from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: DON'T PANIC.

    In fact do nothing but continue ...

    Even a lowly crustacean like me did not die or dissolve into a rainbow when going through this. You are not crazy.

    Do not attach to the experience or its 'transcendence' or to the fear. Return to the breath or mindfulness of the meditation.

    Everything is fine. <3

    RuddyDuck9
  • howhow Veteran
    edited June 2016

    @dctufts

    The Buddhist path is the journey from self interest towards selflessness.

    To go further along this road will require nothing more than what you have already been doing, but..where you formally gained the rewards for your journey with the experience of a lessening of suffering causes, now to keep progressing further on, even these rewards will be need to be left behind.

    With a lessening of self and what it correspondingly feels it can gain , practice needs to be able to sustain itself onward's towards selflessness or as it is more commonly spoken of as "just practicing for practice sake."

    Fear is just a light showing the dark bound traveler exactly where their next challenge lies.
    I personally subscribe to the complete abandonment to my fears but many others subscribe to more moderate or sequentially stepped approaches.

    Either way.....

    All minds must eventually awaken from the dream of their own isolation within existence so your prediction for a change for your mind, is incontestable.

    I think the interesting question here is whether you wish this to be within the dying spark of deaths surprise or as the manifestation of this next moment of life.

    lobstersilverdctufts
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited June 2016

    @how said:
    Fear is just a light showing the dark bound traveler exactly where their next challenge lies.
    I personally subscribe to the complete abandonment to my fears but many others subscribe to more moderate or sequentially stepped approaches.

    Accept the fear. Sounds like a plan. B)

    Musical interlude:
    Hello darkness, my old friend
    I've come to talk with you again
    Because a vision softly creeping
    Left its seeds while I was sleeping
    And the vision that was planted in my brain
    Still remains
    Within the sound of silence

    • Simon and Garfunkel

    Like many people my fear is not that we don't exist

    • but that we do or rather we have an ignorant subjective experience/delusion of that apparent/arising reality ...

    I would love to hear what this fear feels like? Which sense of 'no being' it comes from?

    For my regular picnic excursions to the hell realms, I like to bring big empty vats of negative qualities for the imagined demons to feast on. Getting a demon in a vat with reflective sides will scare them silly for eons, even if you leave the lid off ...
    Similar fun available for angel preening in the god realms ...

    and now back to the fearless

  • I think the interesting question here is whether you wish this to be within the dying spark of deaths surprise or as the manifestation of this next moment of life.

    Death is kind of the ultimate delusion of the self isn't it? I perceive death in the nothingness so my mind has turned away. Maybe if I ignore it I won't have to die! :p That's worked out for people before, right?

    I know I will let go at some point and experience what's there.

    I believe in Zen tradition the death of the mind is referred to as the "great death" as compared to the "small death" of the body. I don't know if I'm there of course, I only know what I fear will happen if I go further.

    This site has helped me a bit as have the responses in this thread, thank you all for sharing.

    how
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