Azidonis wrote:Looks like the thread went from practical experience, to theory.
In my experience, I remember going into meditation, getting my mind very still, but the running narrative - or the source of the narrative - wouldn't stop. "Ah, look how still it is!!!" and then a moment later, "Doh. Shut up!" I'd try to then stop the commentary by trying to stop the commentary. "OK, stop... it... now!" and then "Damn. Still there. OK. NOW!" "Arrhhh. Still THERE!" Eventually, I'd find myself, without forming words in the mind, observing and waiting for the narrative to stop. But it was still, even without forming words in the mind, that same "me", looking at myself as an object, getting in the way of something I could sense beyond - so even though there was no verbalized thought, there was still this discursive thought. Anyway, I banged my head against this for a while... and then I gave up because life just got in the way and I didn't have enough time and the care-free lifestyle anymore - I have found that meditative life is a full time occupation. Even when not meditating, you really need a whole lifestyle that is conducive to entering concentrated states. If you have too many things going on, its just more stuff that you have to shut down thinking about when you sit. Back when I was a carefree person in that special stage of life that more and more of us are getting to experience - between high school/college and becoming a useful human being - a wonderful gift of modernity (ahem) - I could spend days doing nothing but filling time with necessities - eating, sleeping, study - between meditation sessions.
Anyway, skip ahead to more recent times where I use meditation as a daily practice to keep my sanity. I don't have much intention behind it anymore, really. Its just another acquired habit to stay healthy - like flossing. It was one of these meditation sessions where I was just dwelling in breath observation, that all of a sudden, even the breath observation faded, and I found - and its difficult to describe - but I stopped observing and there was instead nothing but observing. It was as if something had flipped and I was no longer the observer, but the thing observed - I no longer was trying to accomplish the impossible task of seeing the back of my own head, but instead settled into the head. These descriptions of my experience do not do it justice. But the sensation was expansive, there were no limitations - but as soon as I slipped into it, it was gone, because that narrative started to flip out, "Holy Sh-T! What was that?!!!!"
Anyway, it seems various teachers have their peculiar vocabulary for all this. I assume that they are generally cataloging the same experience. The question comes back - what methods work to get to these states, and what significance do they have? This latter point may seem counter to the whole endeavor - especially given the fact that such "meaning" tends to make practice more difficult. However, it seems to me, this is critical as the meaning has the effect of defining the limitations of the meditation. Strange how conditioning works, and how conditioning is, apparently, inescapable.