12.28, Friday 25 Nov 2005

Benefits of Long-term Meditation, with Shinzen Young:

Well, that's why we develop those special states of concentration first. That then gives you the ability to perceive and relax at the subtle scale. Now, the interesting thing is that when you observe yourself at the macroscopic scale -- with the naked eye, so to speak -- you get what I would call psychological insights, insights into your individual personality structure. Now, those kinds of insights are very important, and I would never denigrate them. When you observe that same mind-body process in the special state of samadhi or concentration, you begin to get spiritual insights, insights into much more fundamental issues than just why I am the way I am, insights into things that are universal for all living beings. You understand the nature of suffering, how it is that sensation turns into suffering, and therefore how it is that a person can experience uncomfortable sensations without suffering. We're not talking about this suffering or that suffering; we're talking about generically understanding the whole phenomenon, whether it's suffering from anger, from compulsion, from physical pain. You get what every mathematician is always looking for, the generic formula that works for all of these. Well, that's a very deep kind of insight, and that can only be had by observing.


I find it wonderful that it's possible to give words to these kind of experiences, and also that there's something shared, so the words make sense. In the interview, Young refers to stages, and to a third stage (after many years of practice) that is accompanied by a kind of permanent epiphany. I like that the route through these stages can only be refined by people following the teachers over decades, and reporting back whether the words were right or not. There are no short-cuts, and no easy translations. This happens even in little ways.

Shortly before I'd written my piece on representation and the semiotcracy earlier this year, I'd had a good night at a club on my own. I wrote these words: When you are Being In The World, these moments are unrepresentable and cannot be compared. In pure Dasein/dancing, there are no better or worse moments. There is no time.

I struggle to remember what I meant. I kind-of, sort-of remember passing into states where there were no moments, all moments were different, and I could carry on dancing forever. And that better/worse comment, I remember that I thought that was significant. Curious.