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12_func_multi_tool's avatar

Mind drifts to nothingness during meditation, just draw a blank; good sign?

Asked by 12_func_multi_tool (803 points ) January 25th, 2010

More Samadhi or Vipassana? I’ve quieted my mind down but is this too much?

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22 Answers

bigboss's avatar

that seems really relaxing and i actually thought a blank mind was the point of true meditation. if you’ve obtained that, think of what you can do with your body! if your mind is in that state.

loser's avatar

You have done well, grasshopper.

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

@loser
I’m not finished yet! Just one or two more things and….

mammal's avatar

Well it’s something, but remember not to attach to that state or you’re back where you started :)

Jeruba's avatar

You are supposed to disappear upon the cushion. So, yes. Feel good afterward?

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

@Jeruba
perplexed, I can usually break these things down into my patented 3-stop process, however your 1st sentence; funny I guess. Yes, I do feel good. I’m missing people is all.

markyy's avatar

You’ve not completed the basic training until you start to levitate, keep trying.

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

@markyy
true to my contrary ways, I’m better at fainting and falling down than any sort of reversed engineered alien tech. ;)

lilikoi's avatar

I thought that was the whole point of meditating…....

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

@markyy yes but it’s also for insight and self discovery. Some masters have criticized the practice of zazen, totally empty mind is the definition I think.

Harp's avatar

I don’t know what practice you’re pursuing, and I don’t know how other forms of Buddhist practice deal with this “blankness”, but in Zen there’s no special significance attached to it. It’s just one of many mind-states that arise in meditation and, as with all other states, it’s neither good nor bad; it’s simply what has arisen at the moment.

It’s dealt with as any other state is dealt with: you acknowledge it, neither latching onto it nor pushing it away, but then you return your attention to the focal point of your practice and just leave the state alone. Like all things that arise, it will also leave. It’s coming and going are of no concern, and are irrelevant to the practice.

The blankness you’re talking about has something of a bad reputation among Zen practitioners; it’s been called the “dead-void” and the “cave of the devils” because it can have a certain seductive quality that can easily derail you from your practice (e.g. this from Hsu Yun: “You should know that there is another error into which a Zen practitioner may easily fall, that is to meditate idly and make his mind deadly dull in utter torpidity. This is th worst error of all”) That blankness is such a novel sensation, and it carries a sense of relief from the normal whirlwind of thoughts, so the temptation is to hang out there and relish the blankness, as if it were the destination or the point of practice. For as long as there has been Zen practice, masters have been warning their students not to get seduced by this “cave”, but to just keep working through the state.

Just to clarify a misconception in your previous comment, “zazen” does not refer to this blankness.

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

@Harp it was in an old book I read before seriously studying. I go to a Theravada Thai meditation monestery and my teacher is twice ordained in Soto Zen sect and an Vietnamese sect. I’m just doing what I’m told. I cannot address everything in your post I have a severe case of “blanckness” I guess, I’m on heavy meditation, I can’t go more than a few lines of others thoughts, I’m sorry I’ll try again later
oh yeah It’s Sunnatarum monastery in Escondido, CA come visit
also thich naht hans place Deer park is also here but never been.
basically we just talk, then I wander around the grounds. I’m sorry I’ll try again later

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

@ harp okay you left out some techie turns and redefined or defined the techniques, Your atrophy of the mind makes sense but I’m sure I read criticism, but it was while I was in the hospital understand. I know of the words I just can’t remember. If we could communicate that way I’m sure we’d make more progress thank you you write well

Cruiser's avatar

I myself pursue the calm blank empty state of mind of Samadhi you refer to…it is that great mind erasure of meditation that I need to undo the stresses of my life. So to answer your question it would depend on your desired end result. If this calm emptiness of Samadhi is your goal…job well done! If you are pursuing Vipassana, you are only getting started on your path to enlightenment.

Harp's avatar

@12_func_multi_tool No, it’s not a criticism at all; this is just one of those things that come up when one meditates. It’s only a problem when it becomes a point of attachment. Unpleasant states also arise, but we’re not so tempted to seek or cling to those.
The key is to neither seek this state, nor to actively push it away, but simply to keep working through it, not allowing it to distract from the work.

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

@Harp I appreciate the instruction, but I think you are being too militant about this whole thing. I do not need a review, it’s internalized yet I still forget the forms. Understand it was not my criticism, I think we are headed or you think I am headed for a bout of dualism, I’m not. It’s so long since last Dharmma talk. @cruiser I have no wish to continue I’m somewhat comfortable, enlightenment is just a good day to me. good luck, maybe we will meet sometime

Harp's avatar

@12_func_multi_tool This comfort that you speak of is precisely the problem with blankness. It gets you to a place of comfort where the motivation withers and dies. It begins to feel like “far enough”, and you feel no need to push on from there. This is precisely why it’s called the “cave of demons”. It has been the graveyard of many a Zen practice. If I sound militant about it, at least I’m in very good company; every generation of Zen teachers has militated against getting stuck in this trap. All I can do is encourage you to pick up whatever practice you have and move on from there.

There appears to be some confusion between samadhi and this blankness. Samadhi is a condition of intense, single-pointed concentration, not this diffuse falling away of thought and form, leaving blankness.

Look at what the Hui-neng said in the Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch: ”...they are stubborn
in holding to their own way of interpreting the samadhi of specific mode, which they define as, “sitting quietly and continuously without letting any idea arise in the mind.” Such an interpretation would class us with inanimate objects; it is a stumbling-block to the right Path and the Path should be kept open. How can we block the Path? By attachment to any definite thought; if we free our minds from attachments, the Path will be clear, otherwise we are in bondage. If that practice of “sitting quietly without letting any idea arise in the mind,” is correct, why on one occasion was Saraputra reprimanded by Vimalakirti for sitting quietly in the forest? (That is, it is not thinking that blocks the Path, but attachment to definite thoughts.) Some teachers of concentration instructed their disciples to keep a watch on their minds and secure tranquillity by the cessation of all thought, and henceforth their disciples gave up all effort to concentrate the mind and ignorant persons who did not understand the distinction became insane from trying to carry out the instruction literally. Such cases are not rare and it is a great mistake to teach the practice.”

Jeruba's avatar

@Harp, I guess I saw a lot less in the original question than you did. When I was first sitting, I could never get to a point of stillness. After a time, it came. I thought this was what he or she was talking about.

Harp's avatar

@Jeruba The stillness that comes from concentration on the practice is samadhi, and is different (though that stillness too can be a trap). I can’t imagine anyone using the words “mind drifts” or “drawing a blank” when talking about samadhi. In samadhi, awareness of the focal point of meditation (the koan or the breath, for example) grows to the point that the discursive chatter is stilled. But there’s still the practice, still the concentration. The mind is most definitely not drifting, and is certainly not blank. “Still” perhaps, or “quiet”, or “clear”, but not “blank”.

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

it’s not worth all this fuss people! This is amusing. Arguing over whom has more peace in their lives. I don’t stand potification. Yes discuss amongst yourselves technique. I’m going to have coffee, do some cleaning and then the next day I get to watch a favorite movie w/ a friend. Better than holded up on a stupid cushion in a room too hot or too cold. LOL!
Namasté

Harp's avatar

@Jeruba See what I mean?

Jeruba's avatar

Uh, yeah.

<gassho>

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