Thich Quang Duc

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Meezer77
Posts: 200
Joined: Wed May 24, 2017 5:43 pm
Location: Scotland

Thich Quang Duc

Post by Meezer77 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:37 pm

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How was he able to sit so still whilst being burned to death? I've been reading about it and some people say it was Jhana and skeptics say that he was drugged. Is it possible to switch off from pain altogether when you are in Jhana? Has anyone ever experienced this?

J.Lee.Nelson
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:52 am

Re: Thich Quang Duc

Post by J.Lee.Nelson » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:27 pm

Well, obviously I have never self-immolated, but I would like to put in my two cents about meditation and pain.

I've been a meditator only since about August 2017, but this January I finally got into a 10-day Vipassana retreat at a nearby Goenka center. As many of you may know, the go-to phrase for Goenka's assitant teachers is "Just observe it with perfect equanimity."

Prior to my time at the retreat, the one thing that would usually bring my meditations to a grinding halt was the "Oh God, I'm a fried chicken and someone is trying to prise off my leg!"-feeling. I could usually sit in my posture—something between half-lotus and Burmese—for about 45 minutes until that feeling set in. But one night during the retreat, during a 1-hour adhitthana sitting, I received the directions to observe both sides of the body at once. When I got to my legs, it was like an averaging function; observing both my painful leg and my comfortable leg simultaneously, the pain suddenly disappeared. There was still the stretching and tightness, but the pain was not there. This experience gave me the revelation that, indeed, aversion is the second dart that truly gives us suffering. Prior to this, I thought the second dart was merely thoughts like "Oh, how stupid I am to run into this doorframe AGAIN!" Nope. Aversion.

Naturally, when you have an experience like that, you crave it, and when you crave it, it's not going to happen, so it didn't happen again during the retreat and it took a while for me to be able to feel those sensations in my leg with equanimity again, without getting hung up on, "Considering the sensations in both legs got rid of the pain before, why isn't it working now????" This morning I had a very productive 1-hour adhitthana sit where the sensations arose, but were not painful. I was almost sad when my buzzer went off.

Now, I'm not saying that Thich Quang Duc's feat wasn't due to jhana, I'm just saying that if a beginner householder meditator like me can get to the point where bodily sensations that used to be prohibitively painful aren't, then a highly experienced meditator like Thich Quang Duc may well have been able to behold the sensations of his body burning with perfect equanimity—thus without the pain stemming from aversion. (Correct me if I am wrong, but I'm not even sure that jhana is a thing in Vietnamese Zen. The word Dyana is sometimes used to mean "contemplation" or "meditation" and may not refer to the four Rupa Jhanas and four Arupa Jhanas. I am not a scholar of Vietnamese Zen in this life—although I was conceived at the right time to be Thich Thien An's tulku! LOL.)

I find overwhelming, sublime beauty in the prize-winning photograph in which one half of Thich Quang Duc's face is engulfed in flame and the other half looks like any other face in an adhitthana sit. What he did was awe-inspiring both in terms of meditative attainment and political importance. It was a turning point in Vietnam's persecution of Buddhists and it is an inspiration to every meditator. A lifetime of practice, literally going up in smoke. That's some letting go.

As for whether drugs were involved, I think anyone who has taken Percocet can tell you that they don't just effect bodily sensations. They numb your self-control as well. I'm pretty sure that if he had been on drugs enough not to feel the sensations of burning then he also would have felt no shame in getting up and running for the nearest body of water. As it was, he needed meditative concentration to stay sitting, not just to not feel pain. He also doesn't slump as he burns, which I think would have been inevitable if he had been drugged. But I'm not a pharmacologist.

Meezer77
Posts: 200
Joined: Wed May 24, 2017 5:43 pm
Location: Scotland

Re: Thich Quang Duc

Post by Meezer77 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:08 am

Thanks so much for sharing your experience J.Lee. I've got a very low pain threshold and lots of aversion, but maybe if I persevere, I'll get to a point where I can tolerate more.

J.Lee.Nelson
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:52 am

Re: Thich Quang Duc

Post by J.Lee.Nelson » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:42 am

Meezer77 wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:08 am
Thanks so much for sharing your experience J.Lee. I've got a very low pain threshold and lots of aversion, but maybe if I persevere, I'll get to a point where I can tolerate more.
I am sure you can. Buddha's truth is universal truth. Sending you much metta for your journey! :hug:

rightviewftw
Posts: 2219
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:50 pm

Re: Thich Quang Duc

Post by rightviewftw » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:05 am

youtube suggested me this;
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

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