Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

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exist
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Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

Post by exist » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:39 am

There's some passage that describes meditative experience of Ajahn Chah, found in the book "A Still Forest Pool" as follows:

...
My mind remained the same, unmoved. As I lay down, at that moment my mind was tranquil as before. As my head hit the pillow, there was a turning inward in the mind. I did not know where it was turning, but it turned within, like an electric current being switched on, and my body exploded with loud noises.
...

When I read "exploded", the image of ISIS' suicide bomber came to my mind :) So, what is it that really exploded here ?

exist
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Re: Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

Post by exist » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:43 am

To put in into the context, here is the complete passage:

Inside You is Nothing, Nothing at All

In my third year as a monk, I had doubts about the nature of samadhi and wisdom. Really desiring to experience samadhi, I strove ceaselessly in my practice. As I sat in meditation, I would try to figure out the process, and therefore my mind was especially distracted. When I did nothing in particular and was not meditating, I was fine. But when I determined to concentrate my mind, it would become extremely agitated.

"What's going on?" I wondered. "Why should it be like this?" After a while, I realized that concentration is like breathing. If you determine to force your breaths to be deep or shallow, fast or slow, breathing becomes difficult. But when you are just walking along, not aware of your inhalation and exhalation, breathing is natural and smooth. In the same way, any attempt to force yourself to become tranquil is just an expression of attachment and desire and will prevent your attention from settling down.

As time went by, I continued to practice with great faith and growing understanding. Gradually I began to see the natural process of meditation. Since my desires were clearly an obstacle, I practiced more openly, investigating the elements of mind as they occurred. I sat and watched, sat and watched, over and over again.

One day, much later in my practice, I was walking in meditation sometime after 11pm. My thoughts were almost absent. I was staying at a forest monastery and could hear a festival going on in the village in the distance. After I became tired from walking meditation, I went to my hut. As I sat down, I felt that I could not get into the cross-legged posture fast enough. My mind naturally wanted to enter into deep concentration. It just happened on its own. I thought to myself, "Why is it like this?" When I sat, I was truly tranquil; my mind was firm and concentrated. Not that I did not hear the sound of singing coming from the village, but I could make myself not hear it as well.

With the mind one-pointed, when I turned it toward sounds, I heard; when I did not, it was quiet. If sounds came, I would look at the one who was aware, who was separate from sounds, and contemplate, "If this isn't it, what else could it be?" I could see my mind and its object standing apart, like this bowl and kettle here. The mind and the sounds were not connected at all. I kept examining in this way, and then I understood. I saw what held subject and object together, and when the connection was broken, true peace emerged.

On that occasion, my mind was not interested in anything else. If I were to have stopped practicing, I could have done so at my ease. When a monk stops practicing, he is supposed to consider: "Am I lazy? Am I tired? Am I restless?" No, there was no laziness or tiredness or restlessness in my mind, only completeness and sufficiency in every way.
When I stopped for a rest, it was only the sitting that stopped. My mind remained the same, unmoved. As I lay down, at that moment my mind was tranquil as before. As my head hit the pillow, there was a turning inward in the mind. I did not know where it was turning, but it turned within, like an electric current being switched on, and my body exploded with loud noises. The awareness was as refined as seemed possible. Passing that point, the mind went in further. Inside was nothing, nothing at all; nothing went in there, nothing could reach. The awareness stopped inside for awhile and then came out. Not that I made it come out-no, I was merely an observer, the one who was aware.

When I came out of this condition, I returned to my normal state of mind, and the question arose, "What was that?" The answer came, 'These things are just what they are; there's no need to doubt them:' Just this much said, and my mind could accept.

After it had stopped for awhile, the mind turned inward again. I did not turn it, it turned itself. When it had gone in, it reached its limit as before. This second time, my body broke into fine pieces, and the mind went further in, silent, unreachable. When it had gone in and stayed for as long as it wished, it came out again, and I returned to normal. During this time, the mind was self-acting. I did not try to make it come and go in any particular way. I only made myself aware and observed. I did not doubt. I just continued to sit and contemplate.

The third time the mind went in, the whole world broke apart: the earth, grass, trees, mountains, people, all was just space. Nothing was left. When the mind had gone in and abided as it wished, had stayed for as long as it could, the mind withdrew, and returned to normal. I do not know how it abided; such things are difficult to see and to speak about. There is nothing to compare it with.

Of these three instances, who could say what had occurred? Who could know? What could I call it? What I have spoken about here is all a matter of the nature of mind. It is not necessary to speak of the categories of mental factors and consciousness. With strong faith I went about practice, ready to stake my life, and when I emerged from this experience the whole world had changed. All knowledge and understanding had been transformed. Someone seeing me might have thought I was mad. In fact, a person without strong mindfulness might well have gone mad, because nothing in the world was as before. But it was really just I who had changed, and yet still I was the same person. When everyone would be thinking one way, I would be thinking another; when they would speak one way, I would speak another. I was no longer running with the rest of humankind.

When my mind reached the peak of its power, it was basically a matter of mental energy, of the energy of concentration. On the occasion I just described, the experience was based on the energy of samadhi. When samadhi reaches this level, vipassana flows effortlessly.

If you practice like this, you do not have to search very far. Friend, why don't you give it a try?

There is a boat you can take to the other shore. Why not jump in? Or do you prefer the ooze and the slime? I could paddle away any time, but I am waiting for you.

SarathW
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Re: Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

Post by SarathW » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:48 am

Exploding head syndrome.

Individuals with exploding head syndrome hear or experience loud imagined noises as they are falling asleep or waking up. In his article, "Clinical features of the exploding head syndrome," J. M. Pearce asked individuals with exploding head syndrome to describe what noises they commonly heard during an episode. Examples included a loud bang, explosion, shot gun, thunderclap, loud metallic noise, firecrackers, and "noise as if head will burst open". Because the sound seems to occur abruptly and with apparently great force, patients may be so alarmed that they may initially and inaccurately describe the noise as pain. In fact, in a clinical study, some patients reported the sound as an "enormous roar, so loud it could kill me". However, upon closer questioning in several studies, there is no pain associated with the syndrome. In some cases, some subjects reported that the sound was mild.[10]


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploding_head_syndrome
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

exist
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Re: Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

Post by exist » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:58 am

Ok, then, how you explain this passage:

...
The third time the mind went in, the whole world broke apart: the earth, grass, trees, mountains, people, all was just space. Nothing was left.
...

Exploding World Syndrome ? :)

ginko
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Re: Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

Post by ginko » Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:03 am

This could be a skillful way of describing a fetter breaking experience, stream entry. The explosion of the body could represent the destruction of the first fetter, sakkaya-ditthi.


exist
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Re: Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

Post by exist » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:09 am

Can you give me the title of this video ? My browser seems can not access it

CecilN
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Re: Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

Post by CecilN » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:14 am

exist wrote:Can you give me the title of this video ? My browser seems can not access it
Ajahn Chah - Bio 22 - Meditation Breakthrough

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bodom
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Re: Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

Post by bodom » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:00 pm

As Ajahn Chah himself says of the experience :
When I came out of this condition, I returned to my normal state of mind, and the question arose, "What was that?" The answer came, 'These things are just what they are; there's no need to doubt them:' Just this much said, and my mind could accept.
If Ajahn Chah felt it not necessary to speculate on it neither should we.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


"Dont send the mind outside. Watch the mind right at the mind."

- Ajahn Dune Atulo

exist
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Re: Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

Post by exist » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:42 am

CecilN wrote:
exist wrote:Can you give me the title of this video ? My browser seems can not access it
Ajahn Chah - Bio 22 - Meditation Breakthrough
Thanks for your info, so according to the description of the Ajahn (Jayasaro, I think) in the video: "It is some very deep form of samadhi".

CecilN
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Re: Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

Post by CecilN » Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:21 am

exist wrote:Thanks for your info, so according to the description of the Ajahn (Jayasaro, I think) in the video: "It is some very deep form of samadhi".
Yes. But samadhi is also purification from the five hindrances. When the mind naturally purges something from polluted neurological pathways, new consciousness will flow into those formerly polluted pathways, causing the mind to become very expanded, exalted & radiant (until it settles down in that new status).

If it was real samadhi, the mind would have remained fixed in that state for an extended period of time. For me, it was more of a huge spontaneous 'catharsis' however it was also certainly progress in the right direction.

Regards

exist
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Re: Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

Post by exist » Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:46 am

CecilN wrote: If it was real samadhi, the mind would have remained fixed in that state for an extended period of time. For me, it was more of a huge spontaneous 'catharsis' however it was also certainly progress in the right direction.
Regards
Can you explain me more about "huge spontaneous 'catharsis'" ? You can use PM if find it is uncomfortable in the forum :)

CecilN
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Re: Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

Post by CecilN » Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:09 am

exist wrote:Can you explain me more about "huge spontaneous 'catharsis'" ?
This is just the self-correcting mechanism of the mental-biological organism. For example, when individuals are addicted to drugs & enter cold-turkey to overcome the addiction, the organism, via abstinence, purges the toxins from its system. Often during this cold-turkey process, the individual gets high, sees god, etc.

Meditation retreats & monasticism are the same. The active habitual behaviours an individual engaged in, in their previous ordinary life, end. In this abstinence from ordinary craving-driven behaviours & in this new solitude, the ordinary emotions of life are purged & the mind enters into exalted states of more purified consciousness. It happens due to solitude & abstinence, if the mind is pliable & strong enough to purge.

chownah
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Re: Can Anyone explain Ajahn Chah's Experience ?

Post by chownah » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:53 pm

This is not a reply to anyone since I have not been following this thread but I had this idea:

Have people thought about how difficult it is for you yourself to understand your own experience and then how much more difficult it is to try to explain it....for me it is pretty much an impossible task. Now, think about how difficult it is for someone else to understand their experience and for them to then explain it and then for you to understand their explanation. Now think about how difficult it is for someone else to understand their experience and for them to the explain it and then for you to understand their explanation and then for you to explain it to someone else.
Now consider one more level of difficulty which is that the person having the experience is from a different culture, has lived a totally unconventional life style like nothing you have exerienced and who speaks a foreign language.

Also, consider that it is probably not possible to explain any experience. I say this because the buddha's teachings can help by giving us a way to investigate our experience in a fruitful way but even his teachings fall short at explaining an individual experience of an individual person. If it was possible to explain an experience at will then I am sure that enlightenment would be just around the corner for most of us.
chownah

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