First "peak experience"

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First "peak experience"

Postby Hoo » Fri May 22, 2009 3:37 pm

Hi everyone, and sorry for the long post.

But I'd like some feedback and some suggestions relating to an experience I had about a month ago. I just got Kornfield's book, "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry," where he talks about "peak experience" and what comes after. That led me to do some Googling and I found Henepola Gunaratana 's book excerpts on the Jhanas and the two vehicles. http://www.buddhachannel.tv/portail/spi ... rticle4671 Between the two sources, I think I've found an explanation but this is new territory for me. I've only been practicing for about 4 months, though I have some background that might be relevant.

The short version...... I was testing the teachings of Buddha, per his instructions. I wanted to see if the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path were true, led to the cessation or reducing of suffering, and I was quite familiar with suffering and the dispair of meaninglessness. In January, I had an "over the top" anger experience that really troubled me. I felt drawn to Buddhism and began to read. Someone online suggested that I should start with the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path, so I did. End result about a month ago, I gave up testing. Every time, everything I worked through the process came out as Buddha said.

When I gave up testing, I accepted that Buddha was right and the Dhamma is real. That began a day of peak experience that left me feeling more free than I can remember. Then it sunk in that suffering is defeated and the second peak hit. The rest of whatever restrained me fell away, too. I remember thinking that this must be what they mean by rejoicing in the Dhamma and why people write poetry about it - and I don't like poetry - chuckle.

In my prior world, dispair had emerged the winner - I saw no way to overcome the meaninglessness that I felt. After that experience, the dispair fell away. I had read the term, "Unbinding," in several texts before but didn't really have a sense of what they meant. For a couple of weeks I was walking around in that bliss of freedom and certainty. I knew it would wind down and come to an end, though I didn't want it to. Over the last two weeks it has gradually diminished and left me back at "normal," though it's a normal without the former dispair and feeling of no hope. My daily anger and cynicism are still gone, though I've seen the habit pop up a couple of times in the last week.

Before all the "anti-enlightenment voices" pop our, I'll save you the trouble. I know this is the start, not the end. There is a lifetime, or more, of things to work at. What I lack is good roadmaps of where to go from here.

My concern is that I don't want to lose this ground. So I'd like some suggestions on where to go next in my reading. There's a Vipassana center about an hour+ away from me. Weekly trips are unlikely and I haven't met those folks yet. Otherwise I'm in a vaccumn, except for the internet. I don't feel a need to have my experience "validated" by someone, but I'd like to understand it better - else why am I posting questions on a forum, huh? :)

My relevant background is philosophy and psychology, and I'm retired from human/social services. I've been looking for the "ultimate truth" since the 60s - chuckle. The concepts of impermanence, suffering, emptiness, no-self, aren't foreign to me, though my historical understandings don't always overlap with Buddhism. I did a little meditation in the 70s that was insight oriented but not Buddhist. Just picked it back up again since March and I try to meditate for 30 minutes each day, though I don't have guidance beyond books. I had been reading in Mahayana and talking with some nice folks on another board. I didn't find Mahayana approaches to be what I was looking for, so have been reading more in Theravada. I find that I like Thai Forrest tradition for some reason.

I intend to delve more deeply into the Gunaratana article because the two vehicles explanation makes some sense to me. According to it, I might actually be having this kind of experience this soon. So any suggestions on how to investigate further and move in a good direction will be appreciated :)

Steve
Last edited by Hoo on Sun Jun 07, 2009 3:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First "peak experience"

Postby Ben » Fri May 22, 2009 10:31 pm

Hi Steve

I think your experience is pretty normal. Its the high of discovering the Dhamma and there is a sense that a shroud is being removed from one's eyes. While it is blissful, its still just another mundane, run-of-the-mill, experience. The experience itself is composed of dhammas: vedana (sensation), cittas (conscioussness 'mind=moments'), cetanas (mental concommitants), and rupa (materiality/body). As you know intellectually, all dhammas are anicca (impermanent). So the experience itself is effanescent, falling just as it arises. Also consider that the experience is, when you become attached to it, a source of suffering and that ultimately, the experience is coreless, insubstantial, anatta, (not-self).
My recommendation to you is to investigate the vipassana centre, go along, and attend a residential retreat. What it will do is 'ground' your understanding in the experience of mere awareness, mere observation and give you the opportunity to develop bhavana-maya-panna (wisdom that arises from practice).
Metta

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Re: First "peak experience"

Postby Hoo » Fri May 22, 2009 11:39 pm

Thanks Ben :) I appreciate the feedback.

Steve
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Re: First "peak experience"

Postby pink_trike » Sat May 23, 2009 1:38 am

Peaks and valleys...there will be more. We note them and bring our awareness back to center. :smile:
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: First "peak experience"

Postby Hoo » Sun May 24, 2009 6:56 pm

pink_trike wrote:Peaks and valleys...there will be more. We note them and bring our awareness back to center. :smile:


Thanks Pink Trike :)
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Re: First "peak experience"

Postby Hoo » Sun May 24, 2009 7:03 pm

I went to the regular service at the Vipassana Center today and enjoyed it. After the sitting, there was a Dhamma talk/socialization. It was nice to hear and talk about things I've been reading and practicing. Turns out my instincts on how to proceed were pretty much on target.

Being something of a hermit, the group sitting and chanting were OK. I'm not much on ritual and haven't been in a "church service" of any kind for about 40 years, but I survived it.

Thanks for the suggestions :)

Steve
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Re: First "peak experience"

Postby Pablo » Sun May 24, 2009 10:09 pm

Welcome to the Noble Search, Steve! I'm glad you found the path, and hope you experience its fruit soon!

If you like the Thai tradition, I'd suggest anything by Ajahn Chah or Ajahn Sumedho, very good teachings (for me, at least). Then, for bliss and similar states of happiness, Ajahn Brahm (another Ajahn Chah's pupil) has many things to say, and I find him truly enjoyable. Just google them and you'll find more than a lot.

Good luck!
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Re: First "peak experience"

Postby Hoo » Sun May 24, 2009 11:46 pm

Hi Pablo and thanks for the suggestions. I just received Ajahn Chah's "Being Dharma" and I'm reading it now. It's a good read and hits home for me.

I also got Kornfield's "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry" in an attempt to get a better look at that experience and where it might go. That's an interesting read so far, too. Mostly it is far beyond where I am, but there's parts that speak to the path I've traveled so far.

I'll keep my eyes peeled for stuff by Ajahn Bram and Ajahn Sumedho, too. Thanks again for the leads :)

Steve
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Re: First "peak experience"

Postby Hoo » Sat Jun 06, 2009 11:53 pm

Hi everyone,

I found out that the Dhamma Sukha meditation center is about two hours away from me. I went down there and got to talk with Bhante Vimalaramsi and Sister Khema. A very enjoyable trip and useful visit. It helped answer a number of my questions. The place is in the middle of the Ozarks forrest. It's a work in progress, of course, but they have made a lot of progress in creating a nice place. They provide meditation retreats and are interested in providing a forrest retreat environment.

They're too far away from me for regular visits, but close enough that retreats are possible. I plan to make use of that opportunity when I can.

Thanks to all for your suggestions and support :)

Steve
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Re: First "peak experience"

Postby AdvaitaJ » Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:23 am

So any suggestions on how to investigate further


Hoo,

Your experience really mirrors my own. I've been studying/practicing for about 10 months and...what a difference. Too bad you're retired ;) , 'cause mindfulness sure does help at work! :twothumbsup:

Anyway, I'm a pragmatic type and found Ajahn Brahm's book Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond to be the most immediately helpful of all that I've read so far.
:anjali:

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Re: First "peak experience"

Postby Hoo » Sun Jun 07, 2009 3:03 am

AdvaitaJ wrote:Your experience really mirrors my own. I've been studying/practicing for about 10 months and...what a difference. Too bad you're retired ;) , 'cause mindfulness sure does help at work! :twothumbsup:

Anyway, I'm a pragmatic type and found Ajahn Brahm's book Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond to be the most immediately helpful of all that I've read so far.


Hi AdvaitaJ,

I'm glad you're having a good experience in your studies and path :) I agree that it makes quite a difference. I'm finding that retirement gives me more opportunity to study and meditate so you don't have to feel too bad for me - chuckle. I have as close to a Forrest Tradition life as a householder is likely to get.

Thanks for the tip on Ajahn Brahm's book. I'll have to read that one too. Beyond some of the stuff that's on line, I haven't looked at his writings yet.

Steve
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