A Taste of Nibbana?
Early this year I reconnected with the Thai monk who introduced me to Buddhist meditation in 2009.
The morning we met was a wintry midwest day with freezing temperatures and snow covered ground. We met in the meditation hall where we visited and then meditated. Mainly, I thanked him for helping me get started in Buddha’s meditation. As we talked, I kept noticing the steady gaze and lucidity of his eyes. When it was time for me to go I hurried to my car, shivering and walking quickly to avoid the cold. The monk, meanwhile stepped outside in his thin winter robes and watched me get into the car before he started to walk back to the residence building which was about 50 yards away. As I let the car warm up, I watched him. His gait was slow and steady. Raising one foot and then the other, step by step, undisturbed by the cold, he walked. The contrast couldn’t have been more obvious. Having grown up in northern Minnesota where the temperatures get much colder than on this day, I should have been more at ease than this monk from Thailand.
For the rest of the day I kept recollecting Ajahn’s composure and gaze. The next morning it was l in my mind even more. I had a chance to meditate mid morning and the moment I sat down and closed my eyes, I was in an altered state that is hard to put into words. Even though I have never been physically submerged in an enclosed tank of liquid, I will compare it to that---fully submerged, steady, buoyant, full. It was different than anything I ever remember experiencing, seeming to be beyond the range sensual consciousness and beyond time. Actually, I couldn’t even think about it until it was over. I don’t think it lasted long in earthly clock time. It was also different in that there wasn’t a craving for it afterwards. It was a completely, fulfilling experience.
My Buddhist teachers have trained me to not think much about experiences which happen in meditation or otherwise. So I also let this one sit in a corner of the mind, while hoping to understand it one day. In a couple of recent meditations though, I feel that I am approaching it. When I effectively retract the sensual energies and halt thinking with firm resolve, I sense a buoyancy just beyond, further inward.
Maybe by grace or transmission, I was able to get an experience similar or the same as the monk’s consciousness on that day. I feel it was not coincidental that I met with him on that day because I had been in proximity for a couple months and finally I just went to see him, without really making a plan ahead of time.
As I’ve reflected and meditated since, I think the experience can possibly be regarded from several angles:
- Experience of the core self minus the sense of identity
- Experience of peace which is untainted by emotions connected to a sense of self
- A taste of nibbana
It is part of my journey as I try to follow Lord Buddha's path.