Pain-to-Identity as Fundamental Confusion 

Suffering is the efficient way to construct identity—a something to fortify and, ironically, fend all threats off for.

Well, in the interest of balanced reporting, I’ll say that lately my meditation sessions alternate between deep, rich, and spectacular—and painful, distracted, and boring. Funny how these are happening back-to-back. Last night I was in fifth jhana within literally seconds. Tonight felt like I didn’t have even access concentration. I had all those little irritating physical sensations of itching, pin-pricks, lower back pain, restlessness, and even nausea. My thoughts were all superficial but all over the place. 

On top of this, I was bored and wanted to just blow off the sit. But I didn’t. I just sat there unable to even hate it. I just felt “This is so friggin’ repetitive; I’ll never get it.” So I was disgusted and full of doubt, but even the doubt had lack of substance. 

I tried to notice something “useful” about the pains, or at least just notice them because that’s what I’m supposed to do, right? All I gleaned was that a galore of “selfing” energy is bound up with pain and suffering. I know I’m “supposed” to see that the suffering is ownerless, but I just noticed how it sure does seem like I’m totally owning the pain. It is almost as if pain is the most efficient way to construct a self, a something to fortify and fend all else off for. The trouble is, what I would fend off are my own sensations!

There is a fundamental confusion here.

Dissolution of (Physical) Pain

This sit went better. I started with a lot of pain. Long, slow breaths and focus on spreading comforting breath energy to the painful parts of the body helped. I ended, in fact, with almost no pain. I ended relaxed, although I still had intrusive performance-anxiety thoughts and plans to journal this sit, which is kind of funny in hindsight. I did experience longer blocks of focus and was surprised how easy it was to dissolve pain and tension by using the simple techniques in Thanissaro’s and Ajahn Lee’s samatha meditation manuals. 

I saw that my current feelings of disgust with my friends is somehow coming from my hunger for money and lifework.