Marcus Fung's Case History
Subject: Re: Your Case History
Date: Friday, July 8, 2005 5:49 PM
From: marcusf fung <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Jhanananda <email@example.com>
My dear friend jeffrey.
i have just returned from my 10 day meditation retreat as taught in the tradition by s.n. goenka and his a.t.s...
I am reminded of how truely blessed i am to be on a contemplative path, and experience the dhamma, so priceless and pure. often times such feel of sympathetic joy, that slow tears welled up.
jeffrey, i have many things to share with you, and am happy for our friendship. after reading your first letter about the collecting seed, and the diesel trucks and this vision i got very excited at the idea. and happy for your ceasless devotion at how to accelerating breadth and depth the dhamma for all to enjoy.
Now let me begin, as you know i had been practicing under the tradition of s.n. goenka. body scanning, with compleete equanimity with sensations.
what i had noticed, the more i retreat, the deeper, simpler, and purer this effect and the profoundness of the effect seems to make on me. at the level of seeing how one clings to this ever changing phenomom of mind and matter, responsible for complexes a-z, 1-1,000,000.
it had been 2 years prior to my last retreat, and as you know i take my practice quite serious. not as 'happy' as i'd like to be.. or think i should be. and have come through a beautiful maturation (continual) in my own path of being able to self assure myself and natural insight on why we practice.
i had some how of some miraculous phenomom of karma, stumbled on you and your work.. and began to take a slow, and very, very cautious interest in your writings.
as you know i began asking you many questions and expressed the nature of my concerns. (my condition of tinnitus) nimitta. and my concern for investigating a different path (esepcially one, focused or with more of a deliberate intention on sukkha, pitti...
something i feel like i was lacking in my practice. after reading your articles and enjoying the excellent research, and logical points i began to understand what i thought 'your whole situation was'.
the situation you seem to find yourself in (relations with buddhist community at large etc. and i may need to stand ccorrected, but the eseential importance of the 'misinterprations minor yet crucial of
(dry and wet insight. and the phenoma regarded).
at the time i was very curious as i experienced the tinnitus, and i have to say 'divine ear' to a musician, is quite alluring. so for many good reasons, i began to agree.. and then even practice under your guidance. and switching over all together completely for about 3-4 months.
i felt, so blessed to come to a natural and beautiful understanding because i was able to tolerate other paths and understand other paths (because the vipasanna (s.n. goenkaji) was very adamnant about not mixing...
and i had experience ths dangegr of slight misinterpration before.
a few points eventually began to stick in myh mind very clear. dry vs. wet insight.(reasoning for misinterpretation) . pitii, sukkha (something i had been missing, or not. empha\sized),... a pleasure not of the senses. (support and encouragement not to be fearful)
and not to mention the beauty of being able to communicate openly and sympathetically with each other.
and began to feel very assured on my decision to change.
prior to this vipasanna was my only technique of practice for about 3-4 years of mediataing reguarling 1-2 times at hourly interverals. with lots of 'difficulty' in life.
another particular point that stuck out was that, many techniques, including body scanning, was just a way to keep the m ind occupied (your reference to chew toy).
so with all this in mind, i made my way to this approach with some serious tythings to consider.
firstly i needed to honour my expectation to practice 'only as asked' and put aside other practices for these 10 days. but also that i had a very important matter to clear up with the great opporutinity, of the deep experience of retreat.
first few days of anapanna were great, and i felt very determined. no confusion arose yet because the actually scanning technique was not introduced.)
somewhere in these first few days i had seen the most brilliant light. like the sun rising, from one side of the corner of my eyes. i thought surely it must have been the sun, nothing could have been so brilliant. and it woiuld sheepishly rise, seemingly towards the middle, usually from left to right, i think once right to left. and of course my mind became excited, trying to stay calm.
so it was difficult to not think about my new considerations of practice. i could not confirm forsure if this was the sun or not at this time. all the meanwhile my ears are ringing, but with no particular attention to them.
i did not want to switch over to these 'just yet'...
at the time of vipasanna was given i continuing to practice practice. the 'lights which i thought i saw before (the ones i reported)... seemed more like bright spots of sensations.. felt as sensations, subtly translated as light but nevertheless lights somewhere behind the screen of the face..
they were very pleasant.. but seeming a cause of subconscious interlocking of cravingand averting of sensations my body became more and more aware of (ultimatey one of the realizations (first ones) of this particular path. "there is suffering."
then the 'rising of the sun' happened again. it was so bvright and brilliant absolutely blinding and almost humanly impossible i thought couldn't help but notice, and had tried playing subtling from ignoring it, and just being aware of it.. never shifting my attention to it completely. i was completely sure at this point it was not the sun. and quite possibly something to do with 'jhana-nimitta'.
i was very concentrated at this time.
sometimes it seemed to settle around my third eye area.
because i had been started to feel the helpless pull of entanglment of aversion and craving as related to their respective sensations.
i began to decide whether i should direct my attention.. and ultimately decided i should not. because the more i thought about it, the more confused i got. i decided if it's there it's there, it will come again. and to diminish my confusion i've been asked to practice in this one way. so i will.
as i practiced more i started to see yes surely any physical clinging or attachment to sensations as subtle and pleasasnt.. only leada to misery. this became so clear to me.
now that i think about it. the rising sun.. felt different. but experiencing so much frustration because both say, buddha says this, buddha asks of that.
knowing vipasanna, (as taught by s.n. goenka).. i felt by the end. such beautiful, clear benefit. so beneficial... yet the experiences you tell me... confirmed.
although i can't say the sun was unbearable joy, it was unbearable brilliance.
later in my room, struggling not to fall asleep during break, but having a hard time sitting still on the bed (not meditating0 but casual attention.
feeling very frustrated i decided to direct my attention just a peek to the ringing.
instantly i felt easier to pay attention and my troubles of bodily sensations and their reactions were soothed.
but it felt so wrong to practice what was not asked, and more confusion, such irratation was arising now because why was there no clear answer?.
at times i felt, no jeffrey is mistaken, you cannot absorbed in pleasure, regardless of how subtle... he is mistaken, a path well establuished such as vipasanna, for many years, practiced by many with such benefit exists and is supported surely for a reason.
at times i thought i have been in contact with this being, and explored a new side to meditation surely for some reason.
but at the time my meditation was not weak, but exhausted and was hard for me to tell \because my mind was dull.
i know by the end i felt so satisfied with my vipasanna practice. so complete... strict, but complete. so assured that if i continue to practice this way, with new insights, and skill i will keep benefiting. so pure and simple.
yet i know there is truth to what your sayin.. not completely verified. by Myself... but...?!?
frusttrated, at the countless sects of buddhism. thankful for our interaction. and not sure what to do next.
also i feel that although no fault of my own, slightly dissapointed, as my need to explore thie nimittas feels lessened by my retreat experience, because i feel content with the practice.
i felt also that partially my irriation was due to wanting something soothing instead of working hard with gentle frustration, and bodily pains.. and sensations.
also that though the mind is kept busy scanning, it is also very aware, subtle to gross. always changing. and this is acceptable to me now as i sit. even still on a chair, the mind needs to remain subtle alert, aware.. .and am not as convinced my the need for the mind to. 'have to do nothing--and agreeing with the chew toy idea, and the idea to eventually let that practice go...
so what does one do jeffrey!.
with so much love and compassion.
your good friend.