Wednesday, January 27, 2010

From Greed to Rapture

Still fresh from powerful sitting experience . . .

It started with just breath, and the imprint, still fresh in body, of contraction in earlier dream state. A dream about greed, and money, and fear of not having enough, and resulting tightness that did not let love in.

Quickly dropping into the depth of self, I meet contraction, right in the center. Feeling it tighten even more, under the gaze of intent awareness. Tightening, tightening, until it burns my whole inside. Oh! the suffering. From grasping, grasping, more and more . . .  Gentle breath, one after the other, enveloping the inferno, with great patience and love. Paradox of joy from great clarity, and the sense of being at one with reality of hell. Leading to burning mass dissolving into internal cavity, gradients evening out between hotness and coolness.  Happy feeling. Noticing subtle clinging to joy itself. And almost at once, strange sensation in body. Energy rising from base of the spine, and moving up in corkscrew motion, all way up. Soon whole upper body starts rocking back and forth, uncontrollably, in small motions. Energy now moving straight up, in waves. I become cylindric column of energy, and rocking body.

Going back to my notes from Gil's Dharma Day last Friday, about 'Rapture', part of his series on Seven Factors of Awakening - parts relevant to today's experience:
Joy is important part of Buddhist practice, and foundation for practice. It makes it easier to encounter our suffering. Paradoxical nature. Interesting juxtaposition, when seeing suffering and being happy. Often times, energy of mind and attention is fragmented, and drains us. Deep contentment and joy come when energy of attention is settled. Joy can then bubble up from within and fills us. Leading to concentration, energies being unified and flowing easily
Buddha's expected ways of having joy for renunciates:
  1. practice, knowing path of liberation
  2. freedom from not having mind that has mind of its own
  3. being secure enough in oneself to be able to share success of others
  4. joy of meditation when mind is deeply concentrated; meditative joy has a lot to do with being absorbed into object of contemplation.
  5. mind finds tranquillity 
Importance of being relaxed, and being open, allowing what needs to move through. Looking into currents of experience, feelings, energy.
5 different physical manifestations of meditative joy/rapture:
  1. goose bumps
  2. flashes
  3. waves
  4. light
  5. equalized
All with varying degrees of intensity. Eventually one becomes tired of it, and starts feeling ordinary again. This helps detach, and move to the next level of change. 
I appreciate Gil's ordinary approach to rapture. A normal experience, just like any other along the path. No more, no less. Not be clinged to, not to be pushed away.


  1. Hmm, a dream about money, greed and fear. Those are all things I struggle with intensely. Especially career-wise. Not necessarily enjoying what I do (and haven't for some time), yet not knowing what to do...where to go...what I'm good at...what I can offer, yet somewhow earn some money. Feelings of being trapped or that I will continue on the same path and not do anything and regret it. These are the thoughts that put my mind at dis-ease on a daily basis.

    It's not that I want meditation to provide an answer per se, but it's more my intent that by cultivating mindfulness I will be better able to cope with some of these struggles.

    I'm very much enjoying reading your journey in this process!

  2. Thank you Nate, for speaking the truth. Such an important part of this journey. I blogged a little while ago, about one of Gil Fronsdal's talk, about the need for each of us to leave the palace that keeps us imprisoned, just like the Buddha did, with the first step being to become aware of the nature of our own palace. It seems to me that is what you are doing. Figuring out what your palace is made of. And of course, these sorts of things are not necessarily easy to resolve. What helps me is having faith, and trusting that the process will take care of itself. Doors out of the palace are opening, slowly!

  3. Thanks so much for your kind words. Is that talk on the web anywhere? If so, could you share the link? I would love to listen to it.

    Thank you.

  4. I believe it is either of these two recent talks from Gil: The Road Less Taken, or Intention, to be found here:

  5. It was definitely the Intention talk. Wow, very, very powerful stuff. What he speaks to in that talk is exactly the struggle I face. Finding my true intention in this world and in this life. It actually stresses me out quite a bit and causes a bit of fear. At the end of the talk someone asks a question that essentially gets down to 'finding time.' To paraphrase part of his response, he says that if we're constantly searching for our intention or can't find it after years and years, then we might want to look at or question what we are doing. I have to say, I felt a bit of a sting and some hurt and some sadness when I heard this because I'm kind of there. I've been on this search (at times more intense than others...almost in waves) for the past 9-10 years.

    At any rate, thank you very much for that link. I will definitely listen to more of the talks.

  6. Oh! good, Nate. I am glad Gil's talk was helpful. And yes, his talks are all very good . . . Do you have a teacher by the way?

  7. Well, I'm actually in an MBSR program right now (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), which follows the program that Jon Kabat-Zinn started at UMASS. Not sure if you're familiar with him, but he's written a number of books on mindfulness.

    It's a group class. After I'm done with that, I'll probably look into finding someone else or another group. I think it might be good to have a teacher or at least be part of a formal group.

  8. Funny you mention MBSR training. I will be starting MBSR Practicum with Bob Stahl, this coming March . . . Regarding finding teacher, sangha, I strongly recommend it. It may be very helpful in your search.

  9. Wonderful! So, I take it you've already been through the course then?

    I agree. I think it would be good to find a teacher and I think I will follow through on that.