First break …

It was on a week long silent retreat, in March of 2010, that I was reading a few lines out of the book ” Nothing Personal ” by Nirmala. Nirmala clearly points out that thoughts are objects which are known by awareness, that of themselves, thoughts cannot have any sensory experience at all.

Somehow, in almost 10 years of meditation and Buddhist practice, I had missed this very fundamental point. What I had previously taken my self for – thoughts – must be mistaken. At first, the enormity of this fact escaped notice.

Moments later, placidly  gazing at the half-moon hanging high in the cloudless sky,  a disturbing thought occurred: if no thought ever had a sensory experience, then a thought has never seen anything.


So… what was watching the moon ?

I have never seen it…no one has ever seen it… or anything else ! Somehow, this developed into the most frightening contemplation, fear growing and building upon itself.  The disturbance spread across consciousness like a hurricane, cold terror gripping the mind vise-like,  heart pounding, thoughts racing wildly.

What to do ? Nowhere to go ! What to do ?

At that moment, the thing to do was to sit with the fear. Peer directly into it, take it apart, see it’s qualities of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and not-self. And look at what was behind the fear – directly at the origins of the rouse.

But that’s not what happened.

Instead, I ran like a scared dog. Ran to every calming technique I ever heard of (and there are many) to restore some equanimity. Years of practice had failed to bring presence of mind in the face of a sudden, unprecedented panic attack.

Hours later, after it was over, I realized I had missed a precious opportunity. I almost had seen into the nature of the self, and  if that had happened, the self would have dissolved as the mirage of thought it always had been.

Thought had to trigger an immediate diversion, and it used the biggest one it had – fear.

But the impact of the resulting event was far too memorable to be ignored. (con’t)

About dominic724

A former seeker starts blogging.
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5 Responses to First break …

  1. Karina says:

    Hi Dominic, I love this post!! You really evoke the feelings and insight which you felt during the meditation. I am going to subscribe to your blog and look forward to more posts! Thank you also for dropping by mine and ‘liking’ it. I am an avid meditator but felt that for fledgling blog I didn’t want to go TOO zen on my tiny flock of readers. lol. After reading your post, I can see the appeal in laying it all out there. Fascinating!

    • dominic724 says:

      Thanks, Karina. Am new to this blogging thing. Starting, I determined that the whole point would be to share whatever had been found, regardless. Since there were no readers, there was nothing to lose. If these experiences and observations help anyone else move closer to liberation, great ! If they do not, that’s great too, maybe someone or something else will, or maybe that’s not what they are doing this life. idk. Enjoyed your blog. Meditation in general and zen in particular, has much to offer. Have you encountered the direct pointing technique before? How long have you practiced ? Zen was one of the styles I practiced , if only for a year. A lingering appreciation for that style remains, especially for the clarity, the freedom, the simplicity, etc.etc.Thanks for your kind comments and encouragement. In gassho, dn

  2. msarb says:

    I could not have described that better. . .in all of the reading and sharing that I have done, you are the first the put into words the exact experience that I feel when pondering that very conundrum. I could feel the overwhelming panic with you as I have experienced it exactly as you describe. Meditating on the lessons of Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws seems to help me immensely. I am looking forward to following more of your writing!

  3. Hi Dominic,
    Nirmala’s book, “Nothing Personal” also had a very strong, permanent effect on me. In September of 2009, I was reading about noticing “that which does not change.” Abruptly, there “it” was. (Of course words fail–there is no “it”). Due to the intimacy–closer than the jugular vein!–I had simply never noticed the ground of all before. A fear attack did not occur at that moment–I was simply very, very curious. Over the next few months, I kept checking–was there still unchangeable ground? Always there. Always there.

    It wasn’t until a year later that I hit a fifteen month patch of profound anxiety–related to early life patterns coming back to be wholly felt.

    • dominic724 says:

      Amrita: Yes, yes ! The ground… what is there to say? The mind fails… Thank you for commenting. Curiosity, in this experience, has been an essential quality that gets little attention or encouragement from many traditions and teachers. Nirmala does encourage, repeatedly, his readers and in satsang, to become curious about what is available in the present moment. I have appreciated his presentations for this reason and others. Kind Regards, – dn

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