I don’t really know where to put this, but I feel it’s important to record all things, so here goes.
A few months ago in Barcelona I found a book called Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha by Daniel Ingram. In it Ingram outlines a series of maps and guides for advanced practitioners of meditation.
In the book - and in other books and I have read by similar “hardcore” practitioners- Buddhism is painted as a path by which you not only fight the day-to-day arisings of negativity, but how you can destroy the uprisings from the source. And this is all reachable and doable. HERE is a fantastic article about this in the New York Times about a practitioner who did a retreat with Ingram.
One of the waypoints of this meditation map are several states called jhanas - altered states of consciousness, in this case caused by single pointed meditation. Last week I believe I reached the first of these states. Without a formal teacher there’s no way to ascertain it - but I read everything I could get my hands on and it seems to match the descriptions exactly. I’ve since felt myself brushing it…today I definitely got there again. There was a sense of single pointedness, of altering of perception, numbness of the body, pleasure and bliss.
I have a lot more reading to do, but the point of all this is is something entirely different. IF this is a path that works, then is there really any point of doing dynamic meditation? I’ve felt like my dynamic meditation practices have recently become lackluster. I observe my thoughts, sure, but is it really doing anything? Or should I ratchet it up - should I practice specific exercises, or use it to facilitate regimentation - specifically not thinking about work when work is complete?
What confuses the issue is that since getting to this jhana - if indeed I did get to the state - is the amount of turmoil it has seemed to arose in me. I’m filled with rage followed by calmness. Maybe it’s me sleeping badly, but I don’t know. My calm has been perturbed, and I don’t know if it’s meditation that’s causing it or if it’s some point in my habit formation project that’s causing it.
EDIT: I wrote all this yesterday without actually posting it. Today I had an excellent dynamic meditation practice - but perhaps I should expand the practice.