Observation and Absorption

The mind was less dull this morning.

Dullness is a Buddhist technical term for a mental phenomenon that denotes a condition of lack of clarity. It goes further than that but noticing the opposite is helpful in understanding the parameters of the problem. When we are dull things are foggy. Filtered in some way. Clarity is absent.

I made contact with the numbers relatively early in the session but was held away from total presence by moderately distracting excitation, another Buddhist technical term, and a moderate fog. I was also very much in the observer position rather than fully absorbed.

Observation and absorption are key meditative concepts pointing at two different experiences. You, I, could make an argument that they are pointing at two entirely different minds. They’ve been fought about in the traditional meditation practices for thousands of years.

In a strangely pathological twist the modern Mindfulness community has, generally, made absorptive states anathema. The reasons they do it make sense but it remains wrong-headed at best. Destructive at worst.

My deepest experiences have occurred when fully absorbed. When the observer is gone.

Most powerfully, and paradoxically, it becomes deeper when I am fully absorbed in the observer itself. When I have merged into one, rather than permitting the split of the apparent two.

In each second of meditation practice I effort to become fully absorbed in each number as it arises.

Today when I began practice I was present with the numbers but at a distance. It was an improvement over the prior days.

Then the distance fell off and I moved close to them and stayed there for about 40 minutes.

But I was not quite THERE.

Separation remained. I was there, the object was there, I was close to the object rather than far awa,y as I had been before, but there was still a wash of sensation/feeling, dullness, and subtle excitation/distraction keeping me separate from the numbers.

The goal is to become the numbers.

Complete absorption.

In the yoga model we call it samadhi-with-a-seed.

The most interesting part of the experience is how I choose to work with it when it arises. These days we are instructed by most teachers, including the most famous of them, that we must relax out of effort toward attainment. In my case, I increase effort to cross the psychical bridge.

In today’s session that led to forty minutes of a mild kind of near agony. I was ALMOST there. I could feel it. But I couldn’t quite get there. There was an ache in my system as I felt the loss of contact with an object that remained just slightly out of reach. There was also the latent memory of the prior several days where I was so far away and distracted the current experience, in contrast, was clearly superior. I felt an ache of loss and the delight of near contact at the same time as I worked continuously to bridge the gap.

Imagine being with a lover who isn’t quite taking you there. Orgasm is close enough that you can feel it right nearby but nothing you do will get you to the edge and over.

Same, same.

That went on for forty minutes before the timer went off.

At some point a wave of exhaustion passed over me. I had thoughts of giving up. Then I realized it was just one more experience of distracting excitation, ignored it, and kept working toward contact with the numbers. The exhaustion passed.

The timer chimed.

I got up off the cushion refreshed, clear headed, pleased with myself, and ready to start the day.

No matter how many times I live through it that process becomes no less amazing to me. Sometimes torturous effort and struggle for an hour yet I am completely restored when the practice is over.

The goal remains: make contact. Get there. Eliminate the separation. Heal the breach. Become present with the object of choice.

Then figure out how to do that all day long.

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