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Do we really need to empty our minds ?

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  • Do we really need to empty our minds ?

    Dear All,

    I would like to share my experience with meditation and ask a question in that regard.
    When I meditate with eyes closed I feel that activity of my mind stops, that my brain becomes dark inside, like a room with lights switched off.
    When I open my eyes during meditation I feel immediately that my mind literally lights up, that the brain activity starts.
    When I keep my attention on breath with eyes closed I feel that there is only thin line of light in the dark brain like a flame of a candle in the dark room.

    And here I'm confused. Terms like enlightenment or mind illuminated doesn't fit into the feeling of darkness in the mind or brain with no activity.
    Do we really need to still our mind to the point of no activity, dark room, whatever you can call it ?
    What's the point of having a mind when it is not working...(like a person after stroke). Totally different would to be have a mind working on a different level, on illuminated level.

    Maybe that's why Jesus didn't empty the jugs, but instead he was changing water into vine.

  • #2
    My dear Lucasz,

    It is difficult to give proper advice over the internet. Also being a junior monastic, I have limited experience. However, what you describe seems to resonate with what I have been struggling for a long time - peaceful dullness.

    I too was trying to follow Ajahn Brahm's advice of 'Being Still', and ending up in what you also described as 'not illuminated'. As you said, a dark mind just doesn't seem right, so some investigating needs to be done to see what exactly you are doing when you are 'meditating'.

    As for myself, I watch 'the watcher' - the observing mind - and see what it is doing. Often (always?) craving is at the bottom of it, so try to find out what the mind is craving. One way of knowing that there is craving, is that there is discomfort in the body - a subtle contraction...a drawing inwards. The feelings in the body is a great source of information. Becoming more and more aware of the sensations in your body is very useful. For me (and most of us) there is some degree of tension all the time, and we are not even aware of it!

    A body that is free of craving feels light, bright and open. Try and locate even the slightest tightness in the body and gently release it, soothing it and letting it go. The mind then naturally brightens up, becomes alert and awake.

    On the other hand, you may want to keep on being with the breath as it is. It will change in time (as the hindrances fall away), - transforming into something beautiful and bright - all in the course of time. Patience is the key. But as Ajahn Brahm says, "Wait in the moment, not in the future" - i.e. no expectations!

    Also I use wholesome objects other than just the breath. For example, I recall a moment in the past that I really felt generous, or forgiving, and I remember that feeling of release, openness and joy. True happiness comes from giving. If not my own, I recall the goodness of someone else - it could be Jesus for you. Using these feelings as my object of meditation gives me more energy.

    I have also read of imagining a beautiful bright light in the mind's eye. You could try that too.

    Meditation is a trial and error process I feel. It doesn't come right the first time.

    Once again, these are just some of my own is if you find a teacher who could guide you in person.

    With metta,
    Ven Upekkha


    • #3
      Dear Ven Upekkha,

      Many thanks for the great and inspiring answer.

      Let the peace and joy be with you.


      • #4
        I've never found that the mind needs to be still. We just don't get carried away by the stream of thought. It is just a process we have little control over. If I tell you to close your eyes for ten seconds and NOT think of a monkey, you will likely only be able to think of a monkey for the next ten seconds. Don't let it carry you away. Be still in that you recognize the stream, the process; but you don't have to let the process engulf you. Later, when a tough emotional situation may arise, you'll be able to put this into practice, see the suffering, but not let it engulf you. Just some thoughts.



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