December 3, 2023

From Beyond: cessation trance: nirodha-samāpatti


“…niroda-samapatti or ‘attainment of extinction’, also called saññā-vedayita-nirodha, ‘extinction of feeling and perception’, is the temporary suspension of all consciousness and mental activity, following immediately upon the semi-conscious state called ‘sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception’ (s. jhāna, 8).

The absolutely necessary pre-conditions to its attainment are said to be perfect mastery of all the 8 absorptions (jhāna), as well as the previous attainment of Anāgāmī or Arahantship…”
(Nyanatiloka 2021, amazon >>)

After 'entering' the Nondual more or less at will for one year or so, profound anatta insight has manifested, as I have shared in the previous post (blog on anatta >>). A month and a half later, a thought about experiencing nirodha-samāpatti arose.

And it happened soon after that:

While lying in my bed, with closed eyes (no visual input), “entering” into Nondual and on to anatta using the entry of thoughts and feelings (just thoughts/feelings cognized, no observer, self, or witness), it happened.

Slowly, body awareness 'turned off', feelings of so-called tiredness just dissipated, and thoughts vanished one by one. Consciousness manifested as thoughts/feelings (anatta level insight) just gently and slowly faded to a complete cessation. Total silence or stillness and swoon-like absence of everything and anything. Beyond perception and non-perception. No saying; I can’t adequately describe it, I admit.

I don’t know how long this state lasted, but afterward, everything instigated itself; everything became active again: thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Eyes were closed still, so the visual cortex was inactive throughout the event.

It was like a natural thing, an element of arising and ceasing of events. Only this time, there was no event, no perception, and no not-perception. It was the total absence of anything and everything. I cannot remember what was going on in this state, as there was no I to remember anything.

Now, silent joy arises here as I share this; there is nothing overly special, extraordinarily mystical, or magical about the experience, just naturally unfolding events or non-events. 

Now, however, there is nothing I could possibly base my existence or awareness on, not even the consciousness itself. 

Everything is impermanent, arising and fading away, independently liberated and interdependent simultaneously, and free of inherent qualities with no center, self, god forms, angels, spirits, elements, energy, symbols, numbers, souls, etc.

The experience completely rewired existing cognitive maps in the brain and altered cell memory: there was no issue (after the experience) with letting go of anything from the past. Everything I still identified with (through attachment or aversion) just lost meaning and substantiality. Freedom beyond form.

So why am I sharing this?

In his detailed book on Buddhist sadhana, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, Daniel Ingram shares the following on the topic:

“I mention this attainment because it is one more of those things that are found today but has often been relegated to the realm of myth and legend or has been forgotten entirely. It is not that Nirodha is necessary, but it definitely is a good and useful thing to be able to attain. In fact, I have not yet spoken with anyone who had attained it and who didn’t consider it among the absolute King Daddy of meditation attainments other than arahatship, as the depth of its afterglow never fails to impress and amaze. Hopefully, mentioning it will raise the standard to which people feel they can reasonably aspire, which is basically the whole goal of this book.”
(Ingram, 2020, amazon >>)

Daniel’s words resonate with my current reality very much.

Interestingly enough, while this “non-state” manifested once or twice after the event described above, I completely forgot about it after entering the Vajrayana path. And it never manifested again.

My current understanding is that there is no need for that level of withdrawal as the Mahamudra, the apex of the Vajrayana path, the Land of no more Learning and the State of non-effort, is not some trance but a natural living and breathing ground reality, Nuit, the naked brilliance and beautiful void.

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