A Basic Lesson in Meditation Stages
Copyright (c) 2004 William Bodri, www.meditationexpert.com.
All Rights Reserved in All Media
Reprinted with permission
Back to a lesson on basic meditation -- what to do and what's likely to happen when you start on the pure road of true spiritual practice.
All the meditation methods of the world involve learning to let go of your thoughts so that you can cultivate a state "empty" of mental scattering, and free of "rather invisible undercurrent" scenarios of mental interpretation and clinging.
Thoughts are always flying around in your mind, and you're always subtly clinging to them without knowing it. They are like a cloud of mosquitoes that have chi energies attached to them that interfere with the true human that actually functions with clear awareness.
Get rid of that incessant clinging, get rid of all sorts of layers of invisible "false" thought that screen you from your original nature, and at the minimum you'll attain a mental scenario of peace called "samadhi."
At the best -- if you clear away everything including the notions of being an ego -- you can achieve seamless union with the "Ultimate Ego" that we call God or the original nature.
That's the formless original nature beyond being and non-being, existence and non-existence. The way to that achievement is through consciousness rather than prayer and ceremonies because that original foundation has the function of awareness, and you can use that function to get closest to its essence. Naturally, that doesn't mean THINKING because thinking is just another function of that essence and screens you from its clear nature.
Because chi and consciousness are linked, clinging to your thoughts creates a barrier of chi energy that interferes with the natural chi circulation of your body. Let go of your thoughts and that natural chi energy circulation will reassert itself.
When children are young and don't have too many thoughts, that's often why they are psychic. However, past the age of puberty when they become more mentally complicated and their sexual desires arise, and those powers usually disappear because like everyone else they start clinging. Experience an accident that affects your chi and chi channels when you are older, and sometimes those psychic abilities reassert themselves.
When your natural chi circulation starts to reassert itself because you let go of your thoughts (you don't BLOCK them but let go of them), it will clear your chi channels, your chakras will open, gong-fu happens, superpowers are achieved and ultimately, if you train correctly in letting go you can attain samadhi.
You must cultivate samadhi correctly to create a foundation for the spiritual path, and then with wisdom you might be able to "see the Tao," or as Islam puts it, "to see God's face."
A thousand, ten-thousand, a hundred-thousand different meditation methods are available to help you quiet your thoughts and cultivate your vital energies. Many books go into those methods, but what really happens as you start to make progress on the spiritual path?
Here's what you can expect, if you meditate correctly.
First, your mind will start to become clearer. Initially it becomes clearer without you noticing it, then one day you notice it, and then with further progress you actually think you are retrogressing.
Why, with progress, will you think you are retrogressing?
Because you're finally unleashing your vital energies which travel up to your brain and create all sorts of random thoughts and secondly, you finally start to notice all those thoughts for the first time with REAL clarity.
With real clarity you see them -- which is something you never did before -- and seeing all these thoughts you think you're actually retrogressing.
It happens to everyone, but you really aren't backsliding.
Actually it's like a glass of muddy water that is settling. When the water is all stirred up and muddy, you cannot see any individual dust particles. However, when the mud starts settling you can start to see the individual particles of dirt and dust for the first time -- and that's the stage of progress.
You see, your awareness is becoming detached from thoughts, so now you can finally see them.
That's why most meditation methods teach you "neti neti" ("not this, not this" so don't cling), to "let go, let go" and to act like a third person observer. It's all a matter of training you to break your habit of clinging, and to stop clinging especially to the body consciousness.
Two barriers are especially troublesome at the early stages of the path -- sexual desire and the habit of clinging to the body/ego thinking it to be the real you. Let go of both and you'll find that your consciousness is non-local.
Okay, now your vital energies are being unleashed because of proper "emptiness generating meditation" -- what else can you expect?
Usually, now it will become easy to get irritated or angry because your unleashed kundalini life force vital energies are now always "below the surface" shaking at the vital chi energies you cling to that are involved with your habits and personality. They're trying to go upwards and are hitting all these other obstructions.
Because that entire suit of chi you're clinging to (wearing) is unstable, it's very easy to set it off and become angry or irritated, especially now that your mind is clearer and you can see everything. Usually there's liver energies involved in this, but to go into with depth is a complicated discussion.
At the early stages of progress, it's easy for those ascending vital energies to ignite all sorts of latent infections in the body, especially when they reach the skull, because your vital energies are now penetrating every nook, cranny and pocket in the body and that's where latent infections hide.
That's why the qi-gong crowd is crazy thinking they can guide their chi with their thoughts to become enlightened, for your chi will go everywhere and knows where it must go and what it must do. There's no way for you to know how and where to guide it.
Usually the chi has problems passing through the back of the head. Go look up any picture of the cerebral spinal fluid channels in the skull and you'll see problems at the back of the head. When the chi impinges upon this area, some people will see things because it hits the nerves in the visual cortex. If it starts passing through the tiny channels in the ear, some people will hear voices. Most of these things are nothing true, just psychological reactions.
There are all sorts of other phenomena that happen on the spiritual path, which is why you need a good teacher or master to help you. "Tao and Longevity," by Nan Huai-Chin, is the best book I've ever found for describing these phenomena and their remedies. It's better than any Hindu yoga book despite its translation from Chinese into English.
Okay, now what?
If you can learn to keep those energies active, by not losing them through sexual activities, they'll open up all your chi energy channels and you may be able to attain samadhi.
From samadhi you should try to cultivate deeper samadhi, and from that attain the Tao. To tell you what that entails takes more than a 5-minute email.
For understanding those higher stages of the path, you need to see a book like "Measuring Meditation" which we have on the site.
That in short is a brief synopsis of some highlights of the path.
So what meditation methods are best?
It depends on the individual.
I personal like people to learn mantra, following the breath, the skeleton method, the fire visualization technique and cessation-contemplation practice. I want them to use a method they love and one they hate, because it's the ones we hate that usually produce the most progress.
Rarely do I find people I can teach visualization methods safely, or other advanced techniques, because most people cling to the meditation methods or don't understand their real purpose. To understand how to REALLY meditate correctly requires wisdom, which is why so few people succeed at the Tao despite intelligence or worldly success and achievement.
Anyway, those methods are just tools to help you quiet your thoughts so that one day you can realize a bit of emptiness, and REALIZE how to practice correctly. Without being able to "see the Tao" and realize how to practice, all the work you do is in vain.
If you ARE lucky to have a spiritual experience, a real spiritual experience is to realize some stage of emptiness so you know how to practice to let go of thoughts. You want to achieve a state the Zen school describes as "10,000 miles of clear sky."
That's what we're all ultimately after though we phrase it in different ways. Some people think the ultimate stage is heaven, but after your merit is used up in a heavenly state, back you down you come again through reincarnation, incarnating when and where karma pulls you until you learn how to control the process through the Tao.
Anyway, there are levels to the stage of self-realization or enlightenment as well, which is why there are differences, degrees and ranks among spiritual masters. It all depends upon your efforts at practice.
That's the rule: method + time + effort + discipline = result.
It's now up to you.