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Experiences and Insights from Meditation

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  • Experiences and Insights from Meditation

    Hi there,

    I've just joined the Dhammaloka community and am very happy to have access to such a great group of people and a wealth of knowledge on different aspects of Buddhism.

    I've been meditating for 3 years but have never attended a meditation class or had a master to turn to and ask questions. So, I thought I'd take this opportunity to ask one of the learned monks in the Dhammaloka community a few questions that have been on my mind or a while:

    1. When I meditate and the mind settles, it's a wonderful feeling but after a while I feel like I hit "a wall" where everything is very calm and the mind seems very focused but at this point I don't know what to do. Should I continue to focus on the breath, the sensation of "stillness", or do something else? Also, I've had the sensation of my body disappearing quite a few times before and, again, I'm not sure whether I should just let this happen or whether there's something I should focus on to continue the same level of concentration.

    2. Are insights from meditation gained through the subconscious or do they become very clear when you reach higher levels of meditation?

    Many thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these queries that I've had for a long time.

    With metta,


  • #2
    Dear Sean,

    First may I ask, have you read any of the meditation books by Ajahn Brahm? If you haven't already, I would highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond".

    I'll have a go at answering your questions:
    1) If in doubt, stay with the breath. In Ajahn Brahm's method, you only leave the breath when an overpoweringly blissful nimitta steals the mind's attention. If the breath appears to disappear at some point, keep your attention where the breath disappeared, because it probably hasn't really disappeared, it's just become more subtle (i.e. only the coarser, more gross physical aspects are disappearing).

    2) Insights are not gained through the subconscious, there is no subconscious it is a pop psychology concept. Real insight is extremely clear, it's not thinking you know, it's knowing you know. One way to render 'vipassana' is 'seeing through' (passana is seeing, and the fundamental meaning of 'vi' is to 'divide', 'split'). Real insight is breathtakingly clear and there is not room for even the slightest shadow of a doubt about what you've seen/understood. The whole point is that you see through the 'haze' which obstructs understanding and makes the mind's understanding of things muddled, to use an idiom from the suttas, you 'gain an opening'. Furthermore it is mentioned often in the sutta that the mind needs to be directed. In particular it needs to be directed in a 'direction' which it has never been directed before. Suffice to say that when the mind's energy is super-charged from deep meditation, there are new avenues of investigation available. After a deep meditation, Ajahn Brahm recommends investigating 'what just disappeared'. All sorts of things disappear in deep meditation, but it's necessary to reflect on their disappearance (and re-appearance) in order to actually gain insight into the dhamma.

    With metta,
    Ven. Nandiya.


    • #3
      Dear Venerable Nandiya,

      I hope you're well and thank you so much for your response, I found it very interesting and I look forward to putting your advice into practice.

      I do have a copy of Ajahn Brahm's "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond" but must confess that I have only read the first couple of chapters. I'll go back to it as I do love Ajahn Brahm's teachings and I think he is an excellent writer too. When reading it I wasn't sure whether I should focus on the early stages of the meditation instructions or proceed to the sections on the jhanas before mastering the basics. What would you recommend?

      I found what you said about the nature of real insight fascinating, particularly the emphasis on directing the mind and focusing on what has disappeared during deep meditation. In terms of directing the mind, is this essentially directing it towards the breath and the present moment or are there other directions?

      On another note, I was thinking of starting to read the suttas and was wondering if you could recommend a good place to start?

      Thank you again for sharing your wisdom with me.

      With metta,




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