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...and then there was One

Good morning, everyone – or afternoon or evening as the case may be. I have a question but it has been so long since I’ve been here regularly or with any frequency, I’d like to preface it with the cliff notes version of the events that have transpired since then. First, I moved to a more temperate climate about seven months ago after I hit the magic age of 55 and was eligible for senior housing. Second, after approximately nine years in an ever-increasing depressive darkness, I awoke on the morning of November 7th, and it was gone. It almost certainly disappeared the previous evening, but I was so flabbergasted by the event that preceded its disappearance that I didn’t notice until I jumped out of bed in the morning looking forward to the day for the first time in nearly a decade.

I tried looking for the depression at first, imagining that I had simply misplaced it, but I was unable to. There was much too much newness to marvel at. Years of memories came flooding back. I spent days on end processing – and in some cases collating these memories into the canon that is my life. At the same time, I was greeted by a gaggle of emotions that I had long since disowned. I opened myself to them all, inviting them home – only to discover that they weren’t housebroken and gone feral in the half century they had spent in some subconscious wasteland. Reincorporating them into the whole was exhausting, and more than a little bit frightening.

Then there was the whole right-brained awakening thingie. I’m pretty certain that ‘thingie’ is the technical term. Apparently, I disowned this part of me as well, or else it appeared out of nowhere. Suddenly, I had an overwhelming urge to create. I’ve never experienced this before – or if I had, it transpired – and expired, long before I can remember. Anywho, so I found a craft store, bought a generous collection of art supplies before heading home and started painting. Then I bought a violin. I’m going to teach myself to play. Then there’s the physical…

About thirty-five years ago, I had graduated to the maximum dose of medication for high blood pressure and have been on that ever since. In spite of that, my blood pressure, even on meds, has been rather high (~140/90). However, on November 9th, when I saw my neurologist for that nasty muscular auto-immune disease I have, it was not only ‘not high’, but it was so low that she contacted my primary care provider. He had me send him daily blood pressure readings for a week before cutting my does in half. A week later, he did it again. Two weeks later, again. Two weeks after that, I am no longer on blood pressure meds for the first time in my adult life. But back to the neurologist…

My appointment was scheduled for thirty minutes but she kept me for seven in a half hours. She ran every test I’ve ever had under her care, and a few that were new. This progressive and ultimately fatal disorder for which there is no cure or treatment can no longer be found. She’s ordered blood tests every three months for a year to verify, but did not make another appointment for me because…why? Interestingly, in searching for answers, she peppered me with questions about all manner of things pertaining to my life – diet, sleep, activities, etc., and finally concluded that, in her opinion, the most likely ‘culprit’ for the sudden radical changes was my meditation practice. I had shared with her that during the pandemic, I had worked up to one two-hour session per day – and had been maintaining that for about six months by that time. Then there was the emotional…

I’ve been on a number of anti-depressants over the last nine years. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been on all of them as we’ve tried ad nauseum to find some combination that might bring me back. At the start of November, I was on two antidepressants and a mood stabilizer – which had improved my symptoms to the point that I was only spending twelve to thirteen hours a day in bed instead of ~nineteen. My doctors have since discontinued those meds, determining that they were no longer necessary. Can I have a “WTF”? So, you may be asking yourself, what the heck was that event I referenced at the beginning of this post? It started with a raspberry…

Actually, that’s about the whole of it. I had a raspberry and I ate it. About the only difference between that raspberry and the gazillion that I’ve had before was that I was, to the extent possible for me at that moment in time, I consciously became completely present while doing so. I lost track of time, space and myself – for some unknown period of time, and fell into what I can only describe as bliss. When I returned to my normal awareness, nothing was normal. And so, that catches you up, and now my question…

What is this resistance I am experiencing that is making a return to this state challenging? I know the formula – in fact, I wrote an actual formula; and yet, knowing hasn’t been enough. The formula, by the way, is simple: x = 1/y, where ‘x’ is bliss and ‘y’ is the number of times my attention is split. When my attention is focused on a single point, my bliss is 1/1 or one, and hence complete. When my attention is split, my ability to access bliss is a fraction of what it could be. So, in spite of trusting that, my mind is fighting my attempts to return and I’ve found that curious. I mean, my mind is usually on board for any pleasure junkets, but is resisting experiencing the greatest pleasure I’ve ever had from happening again.

Any insight on why that is?

JeffreyFosdickShoshin1personlobsterChoephalDavidKeromemarcitko

Comments

  • I'm not sure but after thinking about it awhile it reminded me of the 'sudden' versus 'gradual' controversy in Chan Buddhism. My thinking on that is possibly the gradual makes the sudden possible. Like you hear the teachings and meditate and get grounded in a sense and then suddenly a good feeling and experience and what to make if it? What did it mean and how to proceed with hopefully feeling something like what you felt before. Well the good news is that if you experienced it once then you know it is possible to return. Seems a good idea to speak with either by internet or in person with other people who meditate or reflect on their minds and experiences.

    yagrShoshin1person
  • yagryagr Veteran

    Thanks, @Jeffrey. Good to 'see' you. I am unfamiliar with the 'sudden' vs 'gradual' controversy, but will google it here in a moment. I am grateful that you've mentioned it though as it's got me heading in a direction that might answer an old question at the same time - two birds with one stone kind of thing.

    Perhaps fifteen years ago I had challenged Cheri Huber on something she was saying about the great It (whateverthatis) being a 'gradual' process. I recounted an essay she had written in which she explained her choice to become a vegetarian. Upon concluding her essay, and despite years of easily batting away arguments against eating meat, I was a dedicated vegetarian. She answered casually with, "Well, there are two ways these things happen - sudden or gradual." Then, without further explanation, she moved on.
    Never made sense to me, but maybe she was of the 'gradual' school of thought but was just acknowledging the 'sudden' school of thought with her answer to my question but didn't want the focus of the discussion to be derailed by heading down that road.

    Obviously, that's a fair amount of speculation, might have nothing to do with each other. The reason I thought of it though, was because I've had quite a lot of flip the switch moments, like the whole vegetarian thing. Very few changes are observably gradual. Anyway, just found that interesting... :)

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited January 30

    @yagr said:
    Thanks, @Jeffrey. Good to 'see' you. I am unfamiliar with the 'sudden' vs 'gradual' controversy, but will google it here in a moment.

    It's a strange little debate about whether awakening is "sudden" or "gradual." Do you gradually become awakened through sequential moments or is there one "moment" when it all happens?

    Not to dissuade you from posting, by all means post what you want where you want, but this kind of incredibly specific question arguably needs very personalized guidance. You ask, "What is this resistance I am experiencing that is making a return to this state challenging?" and the answer could honestly be so many things. It could be a general problem like needing some instruction you've not yet received in Buddhist meditation or it could be something intensely personal related to you, your past, your internal experiences and your history. Those on the Internet who have only your descriptions of what you've experienced, whether they be detailed or vague, might have a hard time addressing why there is a "resistance."

    Jeffreyyagrperson
  • yagryagr Veteran

    @Vimalajāti said:
    but this kind of incredibly specific question arguably needs very personalized >guidance. You ask, "What is this resistance I am experiencing that is making a return >to this state challenging?" and the answer could honestly be so many things.

    You may be right. What I find most interesting though, is that I assumed that this would be a general question common to many or most, while you assumed that it was an incredibly specific question. Well, truthfully, I'm more interested in my making the assumption I did - then yours, but I wouldn't have seen it without your comment, so thanks for that.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited January 31

    @yagr

    This might be a good time to find an experienced teacher who you can trust.

    Part of a Buddhist teachers job is to teach their students how to not identify with or attach to the potential bliss that can arise with various spiritual openings. For many folks without the guidance of an experienced teacher, the wondrousness of such experiences
    get stalled early or get misidentified as something that can be possessed in some way.

    While such experiences often get touted as a step towards an awakening from the dream, far less is mentioned of those who naturally have allowed attachments to these experiences to develop which eventually results in a compounding or a solidification of ones delusions.

    This is probably something that you already know about but it seemed like your thread was a good place to air out this reminder again.

    Nice to see you back here again. Your demise appears to have been more of a reboot than an exit.

    Cheers

    lobsteryagrShoshin1
  • Any insight on why that is?

    Wot?
    You come back from the dead and have no answers for us? O.o

    Bliss and euphoria is part of dukkha. Strange but true.
    https://resources.soundstrue.com/blog/life-awakening-adyashanti/

    @how provides part of the answer ... and here is another part

    Let us know what to do ...

    yagr
  • yagryagr Veteran

    @how said:

    This might be a good time to find an experienced teacher who you can trust.

    One of the interesting things I have realized recently is that there is a teacher for every student and a student for every teacher. I am not so sure that you and @lobster aren't two of mine. I do trust you both to not willingly mislead anyone on matters such as these - and more importantly, I trust you to say, 'I don't know' when appropriate.


    Part of a Buddhist teachers job is to teach their students how to not identify with or attach to the potential bliss that can arise with various spiritual openings. For many folks without the guidance of an experienced teacher, the wondrousness of such experiences
    get stalled early or get misidentified as something that can be possessed in some way.

    While such experiences often get touted as a step towards an awakening from the dream, far less is mentioned of those who naturally have allowed attachments to these experiences to develop which eventually results in a compounding or a solidification of ones delusions.

    This is probably something that you already know about but it seemed like your thread was a good place to air out this reminder again.

    It is a good place for a reminder. Frankly, it's nice to hear it come from a voice outside my head; I was getting tired of the sound of my voice. So good to experience you both again.

  • yagryagr Veteran

    @lobster said:

    Any insight on why that is?

    Wot?
    You come back from the dead and have no answers for us? O.o

    I have found plenty of answers - especially to questions that are no longer germane! Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions. :)

    Bliss and euphoria is part of dukkha. Strange but true.
    https://resources.soundstrue.com/blog/life-awakening-adyashanti/

    ~nods~ I appreciate the link very much. It gives me a sense that I've been heard, a luxury I experience less often than seems possible sometimes. i.e. From the article:

    "Awakening to truth or reality is something that is very hard to talk about because it is transcendent of speech."

    and

    "...people seem to be having moments where they awaken out of their familiar senses of self, and out of their familiar senses of what the world is, into a much greater reality—into some- thing far beyond anything they knew existed."

    From my first entry in my journal after the experience:

    "Approaching the climax of the film Contact, Jodie Foster's character Ellie Arroway witnesses a celestial event so breathtaking that she stumbles repeatedly trying to find words capable of describing the indescribable. Overwhelmed, she concludes that prose cannot encapsulate the wonder she is experiencing and after multiple attempts to find her words, she surrenders with the whisper, “They should have sent a poet.”

    The evening following my last entry, I had such an experience. Since then, I have found myself bound in liminal space between freedom and a prison – neither of which I knew existed before that moment. It feels as if that space is approaching a singularity, and that if I do not RSVP before that moment comes to pass, the invitation shall be revoked."

    @how provides part of the answer ... and here is another part

    Let us know what to do ...

    I really appreciate you both pointing toward a way to an answer. Let us hope that it is compatible with my software. I began watching the movie but it turned out I wanted to write this response first. Thank you for your contributions. ~hugs~

  • What is this resistance I am experiencing that is making a return to this state challenging?
    Any insight on why that is?

    yagr
  • DavidDavid Just another unique aspect of the same old thang The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @yagr said:
    What is this resistance I am experiencing that is making a return to this state challenging? I know the formula – in fact, I wrote an actual formula; and yet, knowing hasn’t been enough. The formula, by the way, is simple: x = 1/y, where ‘x’ is bliss and ‘y’ is the number of times my attention is split. When my attention is focused on a single point, my bliss is 1/1 or one, and hence complete. When my attention is split, my ability to access bliss is a fraction of what it could be. So, in spite of trusting that, my mind is fighting my attempts to return and I’ve found that curious. I mean, my mind is usually on board for any pleasure junkets, but is resisting experiencing the greatest pleasure I’ve ever had from happening again.

    Any insight on why that is?

    I would imagine you are trying to reproduce a state you weren't trying to produce the first time. I'd suggest to just keep looking deeper. Perceiving deeper.

    I had a similar experience during walking meditation years ago. It has never happened the same way again but I've had other glimpses. I wish I had more to offer.

    I am so happy for you, btw.

    yagrlobster
  • ... my mind is usually on board for any pleasure junkets, but is resisting experiencing the greatest pleasure I’ve ever had from happening again.

    Any insight on why that is?

    I would imagine you are trying to reproduce a state you weren't trying to produce the first time. I'd suggest to just keep looking deeper. Perceiving deeper.

    Well that is a good answer. <3
    It is not the nature/quality of the experience, it is the depth of equanimity/indifference/free passage ...

    yagr
  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    Very happy for you @yagr

    @yagr said:
    Second, after approximately nine years in an ever-increasing depressive darkness, I awoke on the morning of November 7th, and it was gone.

    Sometimes during the night we are magically renewed. Something comes and visits us with a fresh new vision and the breath of life swirls in us again. I know that feeling well.

    Interestingly, in searching for answers, she peppered me with questions about all manner of things pertaining to my life – diet, sleep, activities, etc., and finally concluded that, in her opinion, the most likely ‘culprit’ for the sudden radical changes was my meditation practice. I had shared with her that during the pandemic, I had worked up to one two-hour session per day – and had been maintaining that for about six months by that time.

    It could well be that during your meditation you have made some key progress, you have as it were attained one of the fruits.

    I had a raspberry and I ate it. About the only difference between that raspberry and the gazillion that I’ve had before was that I was, to the extent possible for me at that moment in time, I consciously became completely present while doing so. I lost track of time, space and myself – for some unknown period of time, and fell into what I can only describe as bliss. When I returned to my normal awareness, nothing was normal. And so, that catches you up, and now my question…

    So, in spite of trusting that, my mind is fighting my attempts to return and I’ve found that curious. I mean, my mind is usually on board for any pleasure junkets, but is resisting experiencing the greatest pleasure I’ve ever had from happening again.

    Any insight on why that is?

    It sounds like a beautiful experience, it sounds a bit like descriptions of dhyana i have read. I think your mind knows better than you what is up, that this bliss is signalling trouble for the mind. Perhaps try to take inspiration from the Ten Ox-herding Pictures.

    yagr
  • DavidDavid Just another unique aspect of the same old thang The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    Just a heads up, just in case.

    lobsteryagr
  • yagryagr Veteran

    @David said:
    Just a heads up, just in case.

    Thank you, but I had no such illusions. Come to think of it, that might be the one illusion I don't have. :) On a much more serious note, your first comment above resonated deeply - sufficiently so that I've since lost interest in the answer to my question. Or you answered it... I'm no longer sure because I ...well, lost interest in examining it further.

    That isn't the 'me' that I've grown accustomed to over the years. Traditionally, anything that I let go of has deep, claw marks all over it but yeah, not this time. It's been interesting - no, fascinating. I began trying to figure out who I am now - but 'now' keeps changing, so I gave up on that as well. The fellow you've quoted there, Adyashanti, I was unfamiliar with the fellow until @lobster linked me to an excerpt of his writing toward the beginning of this thread. The excerpt described an experience that used some of the same verbiage that I did when I tried to put mine into words that I immediately ordered the book that the excerpt came from. I'm looking forward to meeting him (through his writing).

    Davidlobster
  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    Not so long ago @yagr I came across a talk by Osho on nurturing the enlightenment experience. It seems it can be difficult to keep hold of and fragile, easily forgotten

    yagr
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