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Questions on existential limitations

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  • Questions on existential limitations

    Dear Ajahn,
    I have had some questions lately on the body, consciousness, human limitations, and how these things are and can be experienced. I feel a slight deja vu of sorts over these questions. So my apologies if these kinds of questions have been asked before. This an an area of particular fascination for me, so I would be grateful for any answers, experiences, understandings, or further references that could be offered.

    Why is it that we are "limited" to this body?
    What causes us to be almost "contained" within this form, and yet we can know that this form is simply a part of this existence?
    What causes this "limitation"?
    Can we be free of these limitations?
    If this is indeed possible, what would it take to be free of them?
    Are there any cases of consciousness manifesting in strange ways, like various in-between kinds of states? Could these experiences or states happen, for example, when moving from one life to another or after certain experiences (i.e. nde's or intense traumatic experiences)?
    How did these existential cases come to be?
    Are we only limiting ourselves to this form through something like attachment to it or through lack of experiential understanding?

    Thank you very much for reading. Have a wonderful day.
    metta,
    ~Andria

  • #2
    Dear Andria,

    First of all, sorry about the late reply. I've had other things that I've had to prioritize over the past couple of weeks.

    Why is it that we are "limited" to this body?
    Because of past karma. You could say we have done actions that lead to this specific limitation. Our past karma limits the range of experiences we can have in this life, in particular happiness and suffering. The body is a large part of what sets that range for us.

    What causes us to be almost "contained" within this form, and yet we can know that this form is simply a part of this existence?
    This form is only part of this existence because new karma will be part of what determines the nature of future existences.

    What causes this "limitation"?
    See above.

    Can we be free of these limitations?
    If this is indeed possible, what would it take to be free of them?
    We can be free to some extent, but not absolutely. By making good karma you are decreasing the mind's reliance on the body for pleasure. The greater the good karma - especially deep meditation - the more the body disappears into the background, until eventually it disappears altogether. But this state only lasts so long and then you are back to your bodily limitations. Still, the purer the mind is, the less burdensome the body.

    Are there any cases of consciousness manifesting in strange ways, like various in-between kinds of states? Could these experiences or states happen, for example, when moving from one life to another or after certain experiences (i.e. nde's or intense traumatic experiences)?
    How did these existential cases come to be?
    Consciousness manifesting in strange ways is often associated with deepening meditation. When the body starts to fade, the mind - being bereft of bodily input - starts to produce all sorts of weird things. It is quite common for meditators to experience strange things at this point. As long as the mind is in a good space - peaceful, clear, etc. - it's nothing to be concerned about. It would seem similar things can happen during NDEs or OBEs, precisely because the body is disappearing.

    Are we only limiting ourselves to this form through something like attachment to it or through lack of experiential understanding?
    Attachment is one part of it and lack of experience another. Greater experience will in fact tend to lead to a reduction in attachment. So the two are linked.

    With metta.

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