Concentration Cleanup with New Techniques ahead of Mahamudra Retreat

Because I have this mahamudra retreat coming up in a few weeks, I’m trying to devote time to cleaning up my concentration act. I have very little time to read or do anything else, but I quickly read some beginning chapters in Dan Brown’s book, specifically the staying/calm (basically samatha jhana) parts and am practicing three techniques:

  • Monitoring the overall meditation quality continuously with one part of my mind held in reserve for this purpose
  • Intensifying concentration on the breath as a silky-smooth ribbon with as little straying as possible and with quick recovery when I do stray
  • Easing up when width and allowance are called for

Something that puzzles me a bit is how I keep monitoring going when, in Theravadin-style jhana practice, “evaluative thought” is supposed to drop out after first jhana. Nevertheless, this monitoring all the way up the jhanic arc is what I believe landed nirodha samapatti.

Anyway, I meant to sit just 40 minutes but sat past the bell for about a total of one hour.

This sit was fun but boring to write about because, hey, no madwoman visions or ridiculous weeping! I had some fairly intense raptures at first and couldn’t tell whether it was thrilling or fearful—a bit fearful, with heart palps. I was much less aware than usual of the jhanas for much of the sit because I was focused like a laser on that ribbon of breath even to the exclusion of jhana fascination. However, I seemed to spend a good deal of time in fourth jhana, got a big solid nimitta, although it did not have its usual violet color. It was pale gray and white at one point right after I let fly a resolution (sorry, Pawel).

I finally deliberately moved to the formless realms. Sixth was profound—insights started pouring in concerning the true nature of mind. Nothingness was restful and contracted. I am not sure whether I ever teetered into eighth.

I think I’m indeed in a honeymoon review of some sort after that NS; however, I’m noticeably less A&P today, maybe because I didn’t sit last night.

I really enjoyed using these new techniques to be less sloppy and self-indulgent with the jhanas. I’m looking forward to this retreat. I feel strongly that mahamudra ofters the most profound and direct cut-to-the-chase, and I’m grateful to have this opportunity. I’m a bit surprised to find myself leaning back toward Tibetan Buddhism, but now that I’m over my earlier objection to magick, return kind of makes sense—so long as I don’t run into some of the monastic corruption I did the first time.

Bliss is starting to roll heavily on me now, but that might be the Portishead I’m listening to, even for all the dark. My fruitions suck, but I got jhana juice so I’m good, y’all.

I hope I have time to go to the magick shop this weekend and buy a bunch of fun stuff that will make Pawel unsheath his vajra sword.

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