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