October 1, 2019 at 5:12 am #25018
Hey everyone. I just wanted to share my experiences with Lal’s anapanasati (or rather, the real anapanasati). I haven’t been doing this for a long time in sitting meditation, but I’ve contemplated the tilakkhana frequently in daily activity.
Before I share my experience, I’d like to describe my meditative background. Although I was raised in a Burmese Theravada household, my journey into spiritual practice started with the New Age, then philosophical non-duality (think Actualized.org). However, within the last year or so after high school, I’ve studied under a number of non-Buddhist teachers.
One is the late Dr. David R. Hawkins. If you read his book, “Transcending the Levels of Consciousness”, you’ll see that his practice is very similar to anapanasati, minus the tilakkhana (he integrates those concepts indirectly but not explicitly). His “letting go” practice is about surrendering the payoff you get from negative emotions such as desire, anger, pride, shame, guilt, etc., and moving into willingness, acceptance, love, unconditional love, joy, peace, and finally enlightenment. His teachings are a big reason why I respect Lal’s interpretation of anapana.
Oprah Winfrey interviews Dr. David R. Hawkins
Here’s where things get “esoteric”. I thought this was the whole story of enlightenment, surrendering attachments and aversions, at first…until I researched the biomechanics of it. I’ll explain. Lal’s description of bodily pains, sweats, etc. happening in meditation is exactly what Dr. Hawkins experienced, so he’s pretty credible. However, I’d like to introduce another process that may be at the heart of Buddha’s enlightenment. It has to do with the hadaya vatthu and something called “amrita nadi” in Advaita Vedanta. Ramana Maharshi is a famous Advaitan sage who became enlightened this way.
Ramaji’s Original Drawings Part One Amrita Nadi I-Thought Ramana Enlightenment Advaita Satsang
I learned the actual practice for this from L. Ron Gardner. The meditation is called “Plugged-in Presence”. He, unlike Dr. Hawkins, claims that Buddha’s enlightenment was less of a psychological process and more so an energetic one. His explanation involves the purification of the hadaya-vatthu, stating that this purification, or rather liberation, occurs through the flow of clear-light energy into the hadaya. This energy then releases the “heart knot”, or avijja, and restores the current of amrita nadi, flowing into the hadaya from above the crown chakra.
This energy can also be seen as “zero-point energy”. It is the radiant potential energy of the present moment existing beyond the fabric of spacetime, hence the term “unmanifested” for nibbana (this may be pseudoscience, but it’s the explanation L. Ron Gardner gives).
So how do you “pull down” this energy, also known as anugraha shakti? He says that you must first cultivate relaxed, whole-bodily presence in sitting meditation. This serves to strengthen one’s connection to reality, i.e. the empty space, or void, in front of you, bypassing the activity of “self contraction” or resistance which causes suffering, an activity fueled by avijja. Once your whole-bodily presence to reality is strong enough, you will feel energetic pressure glowing in the hadaya-vatthu, experienced two digits to the right of one’s sternum. If you let go of resisting this clear-light energy, it will flow into the hadaya-vatthu from the crown chakra and “pop” the knot of self-contraction upon enlightenment, which not only fuels resistance, but also clinging to rebirth. If it doesn’t pop, the energy will bring about less attachment to experience, self-referential thought, and time in activity.
L. Ron Gardner equates this energy to the Holy Spirit in Christianity and the Sambhogakaya in Tibetan Buddhism.
This is a somewhat simplified instruction of the practice which you can read below. There’s another article he wrote where he talks about this energy and its relation to the jhanas, but that site is down at the moment.
Jana Dixon, a Kundalini biologist, explains amrita nadi in terms of chemical compounds. She, unlike L. Ron Gardner, equates the energy to cerebrospinal fluid.
Okay, now I’ll describe my experience with combining Lal’s anapanasati and Plugged-in Presence. Due to my frequent practice with the latter, I already had a strong flow of energy before starting anapana (though I haven’t cut the heart-knot). Doing anapana in activity, I’ve learned that my subconscious mental fermentations (āsavas) are 1) self-consciousness, or social anxiety 2) envy for others’ superior achievements, mostly in academic status (e.g. others getting into Ivy League schools whereas I could not) 3) intrusive immoral thoughts (These are quite annoying because they’re split-second flashes. Some of them, admittedly, are apaya-level thoughts…which frightens me. I’ve never indulged in any of them…could it be OCD?) and 4) Sexual craving (porn addiction)
My biggest one is 5) Fear of not having my worldly ambitions fulfilled, specifically founding my spiritual activism group (Human Ideals) and making lifelong friendships from that. I say this because of the controversial premise behind Human Ideals…which could be sakkaya ditthi. Our mission is to create an ego-transcendent civilization, free of kama tanha, bhava tanha, and vibhava tanha in its familial, governmental, educational, and leisurely institutions. This is meant to resolve the anti-life, anti-rebirth aspect of Buddhist enlightenment.
What’s important here is that we’re not advocating attachment to rebirth either. We’re looking to resolve the duality between bhava tanha and vibhava tanha, the attachment and aversion to physical life. We believe this is possible through the practice of detached, unconditional love in worldly activities. I took inspiration for this from the Buddha’s eighth jhana, neither perception nor non-perception. The practices of Dr. Hawkins and L. Ron Gardner’s “Plugged-in Presence”, which involves “whole-bodily presence to reality”, I believe, reflects this unconditional love.
Onto the actual meditation experience. When I sat today, I started off with the ariya metta bhavana, wishing that all beings would understand the tilakkhana, overcome their āsavas, escape rebirth, and realize the sotapanna, sakadagami, anagami, and arhat stages. After doing this for a while, I started feeling light joy, but I observed this tendency (anusaya) to try and hold to the lightness. I counteracted this using the anatta saññā, first noting the inability to control this sensation, then contemplating how anatta applied to my bad character habits. As I tried to control the sensation, I realized that this control was tied to my immoral thoughts. For instance, when I get criticized by my parents or others, my conscious mind feels dismayed, but I get these mental images (not all the time, they’re random) of hurting them, or sometimes the fear of doing bad things to them (these thoughts often conflict with each other). Understanding this, I connected the tarnishing of this sensation to the tarnishing of my self worth in the immoral thoughts, thereby abandoning my control over it (mind you, I didn’t interpret anatta as “no self”).
I also applied dukkha saññā and anicca saññā to this control. For dukkha, I connected my fear of losing this lightness with the fear of being judged in public (e.g. having a stain on my clothes, walking funny, etc.), since social anxiety represents the loss of my usual calmness. For anicca, I contemplated the loss of this lightness with the inevitable loss of my mission, Human Ideals, after this life, and the sadness that would create. I also considered the possibility that it wouldn’t be realized at all due to poor circumstances.
This led to the most growth out of the three. Through this specific application of anicca saññā, I was able to exchange the desire for Human Ideals in the future, being seen as a purely material reality, for embodying its values, tapping into its unconditional love for society in the present moment.
What happened next was amazing. The following are the two “arising and passing” experiences I got from this session.
For the next few minutes, I went back and forth between the tilakkhana. I also alternated between this contemplation and the ariya metta bhavana. This led to a fluctuating period between the light joy, now moving more into calmness, or niramisa sukha, and the controlling tendency. However, this time, I was completely detached from the fluctuation, and I didn’t need to keep contemplating the tilakkhana for equanimity. This lasted for about ten seconds.
I then entered a state of deep absorption, or samadhi, where my mind was not only still, but the space around my body shrunk, or “caved in” (This sounds like traditional descriptions of nirodha samapatti, but it wasn’t. It was a minor sensory modification, but still interesting.) AS this space “shrunk”, the feeling of my physical body was reduced, and it felt like only the witness remained, kind of like looking into a camera.
Aside from these temporary experiences, I could feel the flow of amrita nadi increasing throughout the entire meditation, especially as I was doing the ariya metta bhavana. When the flow is strong enough, I feel a strong radiation of the energy in the heart on the right, or the hadaya-vatthu.
What do you guys make of my experience? Do you think anapanasati should be combined with a bioenergetic process, something like Plugged-in Presence, or should they be kept separate? Also, do you think amrita nadi and the hadaya explain how the Buddha actually became enlightened? For more information on amrita nadi, you guys can read “Sri Ramana Gita” by Ramana Maharshi, “The Knee of Listening” by Adi Da Samraj, and “Beyond the Power of Now” by L. Ron Gardner.
All the teachings I’ve studied are on the Human Ideals website. Just scroll down for our 10-week curriculum, I made it for students at USC. I’d love to have some input on it as well.
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October 1, 2019 at 8:03 am #25019LalKeymaster
Welcome to the forum, Austin. Thank you for sharing your experiences on the forum.
Austin has been writing to me for a little while. I am impressed with his devotion at such a young stage.
I do not know those other “gurus” and techniques mentioned in his comment. I encouraged Austin to share his experience so that he may get some feedback from those who may be familiar with those techniques.
October 4, 2019 at 2:15 am #25044Tobias GParticipant
it is good, that you are on the spiritual path. This will make things better for you.
I will speak directly. I do not want to hurt you, insult you or despise your efforts. I appreciate your openness and your courage.
When reading on your website I realised that you see the suffering filled world, but you do not want to escape from this suffering and this world as the Buddha taught. You want to stay here and live like a superhero (Avenger) to pacify the societies and to overcome suffering. The books you mention are esoteric clutter. Somehow you take a piece from here and there and you hope that it will make sense overall.
You mention Daniel Ingram who sees the Theravada as the most antiquated form of Buddhism (“limited emotional range model”). As he says: “And yet, their maps of enlightenment still contain a hefty helping of scary market-driven propaganda and so much garbage that is life-denying, dangerously out of touch with what happens, and an impediment to practice for millions of people.”
“They are chained to the texts, myths and the ancient lies, seemingly doomed to indoctrinate and brainwash generation after generation of monks, practitioners and devoted followers with their delicious poison. What a freakish paradox that the meditative techniques and technologies that I consider among the most powerful and direct ever created should come from a tradition whose models of awakening contain some of the worst bullshit of them all. …”
Especially the removal of greed and hate is not understood by Daniel Ingram. He claims to be an Arahant and at the same time he says it is not necessary/not possible to overcome lobha and dosa. He also says some Arahants he knows are full of greed or hate. I don’t know if Daniel Ingram is aware of rebirth and the causes for rebirth.
But Lals website is based on the Tipitaka where it is stated again and again, that one must reduce and finally remove those defilements. The teachings of the Buddha, which we now have recovered by Waharaka Thero and Lal, are self consistent and full of logic. Therefore I suggest to learn the Buddha Dhamma and see if it makes sense to you. If it makes sense you will let go all the rest as there is no use in it anymore.
I know from my experience that for other people it is very hard to look at the suffering or just to dare to overcome it. Normally the people go with the flow, they do not want to escape. Habits are so strong.
October 4, 2019 at 2:51 am #25045
Hey Tobias, thank you for the feedback. I don’t think I mentioned Daniel Ingram in the post, though I have included some of his work in my curriculum. I’m not a huge proponent of his Mahasi-style vipassana. I’d agree with L. Ron Gardner in saying that he hasn’t “cracked the code” on enlightenment is. As Ramana Maharshi, Adi Da, and Mr. Gardner have defined it, it is the complete obviation of the self-contraction mechanism, the “I” feeling in the hadaya-vatthu which fuels our resistance to reality. Adi Da called it “the avoidance of relationship”.
On the surface, the premise of Human Ideals seems to be the attachment to worldliness over liberation, but it’s deeper than that. Our mission is to transcend the attachment to both worldliness and anti-worldliness, where all of existence is affirmed. The means to this affirmation can be embodied through worldly activities, but we don’t need these activities for the affirmation. It’s something that comes within.
Dr. David R. Hawkins mentioned that, as you strive for enlightenment, very challenging dualities will arise, similar to this one. I believe the phrase, “to be in the world, but not of it”, is a huge insight into surrendering either position. As he puts it, the ultimate question is, “Is there an opposite to God (ultimate goodness, absolute reality…not an anthropomorphic creator God)? The answer is no.” Even he said that the final attachment preventing enlightenment is to surrender life itself.
I don’t fully know how this would play out in action. You know, I’ve asked myself this question repeatedly, “If none of your goals would come true in reality…if Human Ideals would never come to life, would you still believe in its goodness, the goodness of humanity?” Even with my attachments, I find myself saying yes to that question, every time.
I understand the grave samsaric consequences that could arise if I’m wrong, i.e. going to avici hell, but I’m not trying to cause a schism in the Buddha dhamma. I just believe that the answer to this question, whether to affirm existence or escape it, or if there’s an answer that transcends this dichotomy, is crucial to humanity’s future.
October 4, 2019 at 4:09 am #25046Tobias GParticipant
Ok, we are getting closer. You said: “…I just believe that the answer to this question, whether to affirm existence or escape it, or if there’s an answer that transcends this dichotomy, is crucial to humanity’s future.”
With this you want to go further than the Buddha did. The Buddha saw that there is no other option than to remove all attachments to this world. Without attachment your time in samsara runs out and you will not be reborn again. In other words: if you want to stay here you have to keep at least some defilements/attachment and that will lead to suffering in the long run. If we talk about societies we have to deal with a very colorful bunch of attachment. In order to reduce at least the most horrible defilements the societies all over the world would have to understand the bigger worldview as delivered by the Buddha. They have to understand that deeds have consequences. If that would be achievable societies could become more peaceful and less addicted to (bad) sense pleasures. The bunch of attachment would lose some shrill or dark colors, but still many colors would remain. The people would still be bound to samsara and experience suffering. There is no solution, just reduction.
As we know from Buddha Dhamma there is no stable self in any being and very bad gathi can surface anytime if conditions are sufficient. That is also part of anatta sanna. Here is no refuge where one can count on.
October 4, 2019 at 4:49 am #25047
Hi Tobias, regarding the anatta sanna, I don’t know if you’ve studied the teachings of Adi Da Samraj. He states that the cause of suffering can be reduced to three main processes: identification, differentiation, and desire.
Identification is pretty simple, it’s the attachment to your self-identity (this is not Lal’s anatta interpretation, but you get the point).
Differentiation is interesting, and I think this is where the dichotomy lies. The equation of samsara with material rebirth, based on traditional Buddhism, would deem sensate reality to be separate from ultimate fulfillment. On the other hand, worldly people would do the exact opposite, where cessation of sensate reality is separate from their ultimate fulfillment. In both cases, there is a “differentiation” of experience or non-experience from fulfillment.
This creates the last aspect of desire, which Adi Da calls “seeking” or the moment-to-moment avoidance of relationship as I mentioned before. He outlines these processes in his autobiography, “The Knee of Listening”.
This all sounds conceptual, but the eradication of this threefold process can only be done using L. Ron Gardner’s “Plugged-in Presence” meditation, or something similar. These meditations are designed to go beyond the self-contraction mechanism.
Did you try it out? If you do it correctly, you’ll actually feel the downpour of energy into the hadya-vatthu, located two digits to the right of your sternum.
*Adi Da describes his meditation technique, a little different from Mr. Gardner’s, in this chapter.
October 4, 2019 at 9:05 am #25049ChristianParticipant
All those practices are bunch of misunderstanding about this life and spirituality. Focus on Dhamma – one can not mix those with Dhamma as they inventively will lead to wrong views so the rebirth in apayas no matter what kind of “presence” you will be staying – the next moment you will wake up will be in lower realms.
I don’t see a single prison that’s as brutal, as vicious, and such an obstacle to reaching the supreme sanctuary as the prison of hell or the animal realm.AN 6.45
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