THE MYSTERY OF THE BREATH NIMITTA
OR THE CASE OF THE MISSING SIMILE
By Bhikkhu Sona.
As the title suggests, there is a significant puzzle to be solved by any meditator or scholar who tries to clearly understand the qualities of experience, which accompany the transition from mere attention to respiration to full immersion in jhanic consciousness. I will attempt to show that there are good grounds for confusion on this matter as one traces the historical progression of the commentarial accounts from the Patisambhidamagga through the Vimuttimagga to the (later) Visuddhimagga.
Since the Visuddhimagga is so influential and so widely quoted by modern teachers, it would seem critical that it is reliable and, if in certain aspects it is not, then, with supporting evidence, to show clearly why it is not.
The body of this essay will show that a description of the mind of the jhanic meditator found in the Canon itself and quoted in the Patisambhidamagga as a simile involving a comparison of mind with a full clear moon, degenerates to a mistaken literalization of these images as internally produced visual data. Since the contents of mind are not easy to point to, the Buddha frequently used similes comparing visual and other sense objects with mental contents in order for meditators to clearly understand what they should be seeking and experiencing.
In religious traditions of all kinds we often find a naive tendency to take literally what is meant as a simile. It seems this process has occurred somewhere along the line and has become enshrined in the Continue reading
Kinds of Trance Channeling and Kinds of Entities
By April Crawford
By trance channel we mean a person who is able to set their conscious self aside in order to allow another [person or] a non-physical or spirit being, to speak through their body. The person who does this is the channel. The being who does the speaking is usually referred to as an entity by our group but others may call them spirit guides.
The term medium could be used to describe a “channel”. However, the term “medium” is usually associated with contacting recently departed persons with contact sought by relatives or friends. Channels as we use the term usually will [any] beings and spirit teachers to come through and speak, although channels are capable of bringing through personalities who have recently died in the traditional sense of the term medium. So, the entities or spirit teachers who speak through channels are sought for Continue reading
SHAMANIC TRANCE STATES
By the Wandering
In order to journey to the other dimensions of existence a Shaman induces an altered state of consciousness in himself similar to a state of self-hypnosis called a state of flow. While in this state of flow, or Shamanic Trance, he is in complete control. He is able to take his consciousness and subtle bodies into nonphysical reality where he visits the heavens and hells of existence, communicates with and controls spirits, gains information, retrieves souls, and makes subtle changes in reality which may affect the physical world.
Properties of the Shamanic altered state of consciousness are: Continue reading
By Robert Bruce, 1999
17. The Trance State
A trance is a very simple and natural state of being, the state entered when the physical body goes to sleep while the mind stays awake. Very simply, the frequency of brain waves changes in response to the changed level of mental activity.
The less mental activity, the deeper the level of trance. Normal levels of consciousness cause a lot of bioelectrical activity, which is associated with the awake activity of the surface mind, called the beta level. When the trance state is entered, this activity is significantly reduced, causing many peculiar physical and mental sensations. Changes in brain-wave activity are measurable with an electroencephalograph, or EEG, machine. Continue reading