Friday, July 21, 2017

Jhana Meditation and Vedanta by Stan Kublicki

Jhana Meditation and Vedanta 
by Stan Kublicki

[Stan has been a seeker ever since he could remember. He grew up mainly in Christian tradition. He had many epiphanies as a teenager. He was drawn to the psychedelics during his adolescence and strongly believed that he could find God.  He began to practise what he would now call as “samadhis.” Later he studied Zen and became a Zen monk. Subsequently, he got involved with the tides of worldly life, marriage, business, and so on. When the business and the money were good, he shut shop and left for the Polish mountains.  He and his wife nursed his mother-in-law 24/7 during her terminal illness. That was then his spiritual yearning again blossomed when he reviewed his life and spiritual experiences.  It was as though the God responded. He had an extended period of intense inquiry that resolved his doubts and fears. It was an epiphany that felt that the `weight of the world` lifted instantly. He describes the state of joy he was in at that time in unassuming simple words:  “Nothing spectacular; just like a car struggling up a steep hill and getting to level ground at the top. I realized I was not the doer!”  After the death of his mother-in-law, they moved to England. He came across Ramji’s (James Swartz) writings and the tongue in cheek enlightenment test that James included.   The test showed that Stan was already a sage! LOL .  He got hooked to James’s teachings and writings. Deeply impressed by the Vedanta, he felt that his knowledge was still a little too subjective to understand the panorama of Non-duality in full. He eventually reached a level of contentment and peace presently to declare that he is “rich in all respects now. A loving wife, a beautiful home in a beautiful area. Not much money but plenty of time to appreciate this wonderful life.” He lives now in the UK.

I am obliged to Stan for his ready consent to share the story of his experiences in his investigation of Reality. These are excerpted from his conversations on FaceBook at his favorite site here - ramesam]

Jhana Meditation and Vedanta 
by Stan Kublicki

Question:  There are apparently 8 stages of jhana and I am wondering if you can elucidate the experience with them?

Stan Kublicki: I went through all the stages long ago and also a 'step beyond' so to speak. I practiced those stages just prior to my study of Vedanta thought by then I realized I was not the doer. However, my knowledge of Vedanta was partial and all the doubts I had were not removed.

Stan’s Home in Poland
 I started to re-experience the old jhana samadhis in the early stages of reading James` book on "How To Attain Enlightenment."  I was getting spontaneous samadhis during my contemplation in those days.

Oddly enough, despite being a samadhi junkie for a long time, they made me laugh during the Vedantic Self-inquiry and I couldn`t practice them anymore. They just got in the way!

I even hit the `highest` level and although it was very pleasant but that highest high was not `high` any more. No special distinction. I just packed it in after that and never sat again. No point to it anymore.

I`d like to mention that most of my meditation over the years has been the `Just sitting with no deliberate thought` of Soto Zen and I view Jhana meditation as different as there is a very definite object of meditation, especially to start off with.

I at one time, long ago now, noticed that if I looked at the reflection of my face and concentrated on being very still...looking at my eyes but keeping the rest of the image visible and still, I eventually started to `lose myself` in the image and experienced a somewhat elated feeling. It felt as if I could go a lot deeper and that there was another dimension drawing me in deeper.

I had naively believed during my teens that that I could find God directly. I went to two boarding schools run by monks and was greatly shocked that they actually couldn`t contact God directly and their knowledge was all talk. I figured that the main reason must have been that they didn`t believe they could experience God directly and consequently never tried to do so. I reckoned, come what may, I will give it my all. The idea of failure was not a possibility for me. I decided that by strong one pointed concentration, I could `break on through` and experience God.

My meditation developed into sitting with my eyes open and looking at any object that was in front of me keeping absolutely still. I practiced this indoors and outdoors with great determination and found that as I progressed, whatever was in front of me started to `disappear` but I couldn`t get past that point for a long time.

As you asked me to summarize the stages, I will give one memorable example for me, of how I experienced them (I don`t really regard them as stages), and where they eventually led me. I can see why people use the word `stages` as the flow of concentration feels like overcoming repeated obstacles and this becomes familiar...i.e., getting beyond the senses being one of them. I never thought to count these `stages` as I didn`t see the point and the whole process felt linear at heart.

On one occasion, I was outdoors sitting high up in a rocky gorge and looking out towards the other side. I picked out a colorful tree, a particular branch and then a leaf that I could see clearly.

I sat perfectly still as usual and concentrated hard on never letting my sight leave it.

Eventually, as always, the surroundings started to disappear and only the leaf and the rhythm of my breathing remained.

After a further while, the surroundings started to sway and bend ...a bit like being on LSD but I knew that if I hung on and kept my body and eye focus even more still whilst concentrating on the leaf, the swaying and moving would stop, and it did. I now had a perfectly still image of the leaf 'glowing' in the middle of its surroundings and it was now 2-dimensional and not the 3-d image we normally have. This caused an uplifting and 'rising' feeling.

I let the uplifting feeling lead me on. It felt perfectly natural. As I did so, the leaf lost its prominence and the whole image seemed to be made of crystal. It was sharp clear and bright and a feeling of euphoria ensued.

I felt drawn to go further but couldn`t. At this point I felt as if my whole body was as heavy as the universe, as if I was feeling it`s weight for the first time. After a while, this passed and I `moved on` again.

The next `stage` was that I felt as if I had moved right into the image as if through a very fine subtle curtain. Almost imperceptible and all sense of an outside world disappeared. This was accompanied with a feeling of rapture and wanting to go deeper.

After some time, everything was replaced by a feeling of being in infinite space. If you can imagine sitting in a skyscraper on a chair, and all of a sudden the chair and the whole building just disappears from under you. This stage always for me seems quite thrilling... I can see why some people like bungee diving!

The next `stage` was of everything dissolving into clear light with even more uplifting rapture.

When this had settled for a time, a far stronger light started to take over. It seemed as strong as looking right into a welding torch. So powerful that I wondered if it would be painful. It turned out to be pain free and a feeling of ecstasy followed.

After this comes an experience of neither light nor no light. Just vast empty stillness and experiential bliss. Even the bliss eventually is not evident anymore and it seems like there is nowhere further to go....usually.

On this example I’m referring to, the feeling of being drawn deeper didn`t stop but there was an impasse. It always feels possible to ‘return’ but, this isn`t the end of the road.

It seemed like I was drawn to the edge of a precipice of unknown depth where I would have to risk all by diving into it.

I hesitated out of fear but decided to see if I could have a little `look over the side`. What I saw made me gasp in amazement and wonder. I saw what seemed like the universe as the top of a colossal fountain, constantly renewing and surpassing itself in ecstatic beauty. There was nothing objectifiable there but everything was in a state of infinite possibility. I dived in!

As I 'fell,' it felt as though I was falling past dim floors or levels where I could get off at any time but a silent voice kept saying...`not this, not this` until I arrived at the bottom with the gentleness of a feather landing on a cloud. I do apologize for the language but that`s how it felt. LoL .....

As I looked around, it seemed as if I had landed on the bottom of a brightly lit ocean. I could see the light coming from above me with wisps of wave-like subtle light trails appearing and disappearing. Everything was perfect (almost) stillness and peace. It then felt as if I gathered myself to back up to a position as if against a wall, to gaze further into where it was that I found myself.

I recall thinking, this is it. Having travelled the universe I had gone full circle just to get home again! Finally!

But then, the thought occurred... wait a minute, Home? What is home? And as I looked again, it felt as if the whole universe crashed down and collapsed and only I was left. That was the mother of all `double takes` on reality I ever had and it took me 30 years , having found Vedanta to fully understand what that `double-take` or knowledge is. It being that I am whole and complete, unborn, non-experiencing, self-luminous awareness. I can finally put words to it as I know what it means.

I didn`t have the words at the time, for what had happened and needed the words from Vedanta to remove my remaining ignorance as I didn`t understand the full implications of the knowledge that had occurred to me. If I could have only met a Vedanta teacher then!

I scampered down the `stages`, couldn`t quite get out of the Light stage right away and wondered whether I was alive or not ...I couldn`t tell anymore. I was curious though and I emerged into a bright new beautiful world. It was still here! I knew that all joy is in me...objects are only a trigger for it and that there is no `outside` world and life was wonderful.

I needed to repeat the experience 30 years later in slow motion with nothing left out. When I found James, he told me that there was only one or two things I needed to know and life was already blissful. Little doubts can remove a lot of bliss though!

When I bought James’s book, I had to give up my blissful life and it was probably the hardest thing I have ever done but, the reward, if you could call it that, is far beyond any worldly value. It is the gift of eternal life and my gratitude can never be repaid to James and Vedanta.

I know that if I had stuck with the higher stages of Jhana meditation, I could have been stuck there for life or just given up and lived a half a life from then on. It is pretty hard work after all!

If I hadn`t stumbled forward to what I now know was a savikalpa samadhi, the mind of inquiry would probably not have taken hold in me and I would have chased experiential enlightenment for who knows how long?

Funnily enough, I can still `enter` those jhana stages if I try. I think I mentioned that I had a stint of meditation a while back and hardly noticed the higher stages as standing out from the rest of the experiences. I am the meditation. There is nothing to meditate on any more. Unless you call inquiry into Self-knowledge to be meditation.

Sorry to drag this out but I thought some context might have been helpful in seeing the limitations of Jhana meditation. Anyway, it takes a lot of effort to keep up and I’m too lazy for that indulgence nowadays.

A View from Stan’s old Home

1 comment:

Peter Francis Dziuban said...

Very nice reading, and informative … Thank you Stan and ramesam.