The Future Direction of this Blog
This website was started primarily as a creative outlet for my writing. As such, it has never had any particular goal or direction. Especially in the early days, the techs I shared were, more often than not, just what I happened to be playing around with that week. They didn’t fit into any kind of grand plan for long-term change, mainly because I was never able to figure out that plan for myself. Techs tended to “stop working” after a few weeks — showing that enthusiasm for a tech is often the real cause of its success (something that seems quite ubiquitous across much of self-help).
Regarding long-term techs, I was making decent progress with concentration meditation (without initially knowing that that was what I was doing), but constantly derailed any momentum I gained via the almost non-stop drug abuse (often posing as “techs” of its own). Then, I managed to waste two years doing Daniel Ingram’s specific style of insight meditation (Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha) — later realizing that I had already gained most of the fundamental insight the book’s method attempts to establish by practising Shinzen Young’s Science of Enlightenment programme for the five years prior. With its obsession with the “Dark Night” and “cycling”, combined with my overactive imagination MCTB scripted out a waking nightmare that became my life for two years, during which time I managed to ruin many of my relationships. It is impossible to say what would have happened had I not discovered MCTB — maybe those dark experiences would have found a way to manifest regardless. My suspicion though is that gaining insight need not require so much unhealthy focus on suffering. I believe that this time would have been much better spent cultivating the concentration meditation jhanas in an organized, coherent way — which I have now done. I could write a whole post with my views on MCTB (and they would not all be bad — there are lots of good sections in that book), but the crux message would be that it does not place enough importance on the jhanas, or happy mind-states generally. I believe the jhanas are the vehicle by which insight is gained (and so did the Buddha). I also believe that any successful meditation system needs an almost constant ability to turn on the reward circuit to balance out pain and bring spaciousness to negative conditioning, which the jhanas provide. My blanket advice currently is that anyone wishing to practise insight meditation should first master, at a minimum, the fourth jhana, for specific reasons relating to its strong base in equanimity.
Regarding the readership of my blog (and the forum that preceded it), I never intended to cultivate a following. I wrote; they came. It was a hobby at most, and I always considered the cult-like aspect which developed in the early days as a bit of a joke. Consequently, I never really connected the dot that there were real people on the other end of the line reading this stuff. I had cultivated a persistent state of denial about it, and the traffic reports, and finding my links cropping up all over the Web, still surprise me to this day. As a result, I have at times acted like a total ass towards people. If I wrote something, I would sometimes react in disbelief if someone emailed or commented asking for clarification on some point or other. I literally didn’t understand how they could possibly not have understood me perfectly the first time around. They were seen as an annoyance — someone interrupting the flow of my thoughts or getting in the way of me writing about something else. If someone wrote to me saying they tried something and it didn’t work — or, in some cases, albeit rare, that something I wrote actually caused them harm — my reaction would be something along the lines of: “Oh well — what do you expect, trying something some guy just wrote on the Internet?” This disconnect between my actions and their consequences in the real world is something I have had great pause for thought over recently, and I would like to take this opportunity now to apologize to anyone I have upset during this time. One of my goals going forward is to maintain a positive attitude focused on helping people move ahead with their goals, and to remain detached from any drama that may present itself on the blog or forum.
This website has also been largely a playground for my ego over the years, and my writing has tended to reflect whatever mood I was in at the time. This was especially noticeable at the height of the Dark Night at the end of last year, when I was writing stories like An Illuminatus in New York, my Star Wars review, and Illuminatus and the Laser Pointer — which, while frankly hilarious, were increasingly filled with bile, reflective of my world view at the time (and, in real life, I was just about unbearable to be around much of the time). Don’t get me wrong — I still LOVE writing stuff like that. It’s entirely for my own entertainment. However, I no longer see a place for it on what is supposed to be a meditation blog. Offensive, politicized ramblings just do not sit side by side with techs geared to transcend that mind-state. Going forward, this place is going to be inclusive. It is only going to be focused on providing help to whomever comes seeking it. I might continue writing provocative and absurd posts elsewhere if it tickles my fancy, and I’m partway into writing a book that is basically only that kind of content, but I need to weigh up the real-world consequences of releasing such a thing.
Anyway, that was then — so what’s changed? Well, a few months ago I reported on a highly disturbing event which happened to me, which after some research I found out was in fact my “kundalini awakening”. Whilst the knee-jerk response was to give up practice entirely for the next two weeks — and that was probably wise — I could not help but come back to meditation, as I had a sense that there was some unfinished business that had been started by that event. Indeed, within a few jhana sessions, I found that I could now effortlessly channel two types of energy at will, which I call “up” energy and “down” energy based on the path they take through the central vertical axis of the body. I began incorporating these energies into my concentration meditation to see what would happen. By channelling “up” energy at the start of each session, I found I could hit a hard first jhana within a matter of seconds (using the energy itself as the object, which, with eyes closed, I could “see” travelling upwards as a constant vertical stream in my visual field). I started making many, many notes after each session, of every cause and effect relationship between what I did in my technique and the result that occurred. Eventually I hit upon this formula whereby I would channel “up” energy as my object for 5–10 minutes to energize my mind fully, before switching to the pure classical jhanas with my breath as the object. Suddenly, I was progressing easily through the jhanas and entering hard fourth jhana within every 30-minute session. I started increasing my meditation time to 1 hour and sometimes longer since I was now feeling so much benefit from extended periods in high jhana. My mood started to become extremely stable each day after I meditated, with my thoughts becoming far clearer and more organized. I began to find that many things that used to bother me now no longer elicited any kind of response at all. In fact, it was the sheer void of negative responses in my everyday activities that first signalled that some major change was taking place.
Then, something amazing happened. One day, while walking to work, I noticed that my eyesight had healed itself. I have a -1.75 / +4.00 prescription, so, while not “blind” exactly without my glasses, shapes were ordinarily blurred beyond a few metres and indistinct a short way into the distance. Now, I found, I could suddenly see a set of bollards and road signs at least 400 metres away at the end of the road, without wearing my glasses. In order to test that my brain was not playing tricks on me and just inserting what I expected to see, I walked a little farther and found I could also read the text written on the side of a van around 100 metres away, which I could confirm when I got up close to it. At this range, normally, I would not really be able to make out that it even was a van, let alone read “Builders Supplies” and the company name written on the side. Over the next several weeks I would walk to and from work and challenge myself to make my vision as clear as possible. I found that by either absorbing into the breath or channelling “up” energy while looking at a distant object, the object would become clear literally immediately. Often, while practising one of these methods, the whole scene will suddenly pop into perfect clarity, while simultaneously expanding. The perception of looking through two individual apertures will vanish, as will the “shadow” impression of my nose in the middle. All that is left is a single, panoramic fairytale scene in perfect clarity. Sometimes I go to the park and just walk around looking at trees and things. Coming from being pretty blind to being able to actually see things is a bit like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia. This on its own makes me pretty happy. If my vision was 50% clear before this phenomenon, then currently it is about 90% clear by default when I walk out of the house each day. Each day I meditate, that default clarity is improving. Using breath absorption or “up” energy I can make it 98%+ clear within seconds. It is a bizarre, wonderful thing that has happened.
A few weeks after this spontaneous improvement in vision, I realized that it was permanent. I don’t need to “do” anything to maintain it, besides meditating every morning (if I don’t meditate that morning, which is rare, the blurriness returns a little, but the default clarity has improved even in that case). At this point I realized that, at the very least, even if it’s “just” eyesight, I now have a method which can change some aspect of myself drastically for the better, and which I might be able to teach to others. I started to ask myself: if meditation can do this, what else can it fix? Suddenly I was started to take really seriously the potential benefits of jhana. Just this one event has given me a massive change in perspective for the better.
Meanwhile, my jhanas have continued to improve and stabilize and I can now pretty much induce the mental changes I want in every session. The missing piece of my jhanas was the ENERGY. The primary texts I have read about the jhanas have been written by Western authors, and none of them command you to intentionally energize the mind prior to jhana (I am reading some Eastern texts now to see what they have to say). By energizing the mind using the “up” energy for 10 minutes before each session — and some methods I use to do this are here — I very quickly got the consistency in my practice I had sought for all these years. Prior to that, I had some decent attainments in concentration practice but the major problem was that on many days (largely correlating with my bipolar “down” days) I couldn’t get the jhanas stable or working how I wanted them, and often I would lose momentum and drift into some dreamy thoughts instead and then maybe not practise again for a while out of frustration or turn to drugs as a shortcut. Introducing this “up” energy into my practice has given me rock-solid consistency, and I am going to incorporate such energy work into the next version of the Basic Concentration Meditation guide, which I have started writing. I am working from the assumption that introducing a little energy work into the practice won’t necessarily lead to everyone having some disturbing “kundalini awakening” and going crazy. I have to assume that, because the benefits of energizing prior to concentration practice for me have been too great to ignore and I feel they could revolutionize some people’s practice.
Since my meditation has really come together these last few weeks, I have found that I have some rich intuitive knowledge of how the different systems — concentration, insight, kundalini, and other meditation/energy systems — all fit together. They all seem to be describing the same fundamental process of conscious awakening, but using different models, ideas and labels. While these different approaches can give very different results in the short and mid term, they tend to converge to the same destination in the long term. Concentration necessarily begins to produce insight the longer you do it; insight work produces states of high concentration and bliss the longer you do it; kundalini is the ever-present energy stimulating the practice and being released and re-channelled at all times during the practice. I intend to use this knowledge to make new meditation guides which allow people to combine systems, and move forward using another system if they have got stuck in their current one.
In other news, I got my DNA tested at 23andme.com. A couple of interesting things came out of this. The first is that I only have 2.4% Neanderthal DNA, compared to the European average of 2.7%. I am not a Neanderthal — no one is. I had started seriously backing out of the Edenism reality tunnel over a year ago and had all but abandoned it by the time I got my test results, so this was no shock. While Edenism as espoused by Koanic and Tex is no doubt nutty and based firmly in the fear/ racial superiority/ religious zealotry paradigm, one thing I will be keeping from my time in that reality tunnel is their combined description of the introvert (primarily using Tex’s model of larger, simpler amygdalae), combined with my own ample observations. One guide I intend to write is Basic Introvert, which will set out what an introvert is and how they can unlock their massive potential to move forward in the world, using methods like concentration meditation to eliminate their often massive anxieties and remould the emotional foundation of their experience.
The second interesting thing from the 23andme.com data was the genetic markers for mental health. 23andme.com do not report directly on these matters because they were slapped with an injunction from the FDA not long ago banning them from doing so. You must therefore download your raw data from 23andme.com and submit it to various other sites such as geneticgenie.org and codegen.eu. It is tricky business, analysing your own genome so I would appreciate any guidance on doing so. One thing geneticgenie.org told me however is that I have double copies of the MAO gene mutation, and a single copy of the COMT variant that makes people insane. Each on their own is pretty bad, but together they are known to cause real mental problems, including major depression, borderline personality disorder, and a greatly increased risk of suicide. The genes explain a lot of my erratic behaviour, drug addictions and mood problems over the last several years. However, over the last several weeks, since my meditation practice came together, I am happy to say that symptoms I associated with mental health problems in the past have all but disappeared. For example, I have written in depth at times on this blog that I identify as “bipolar lite” (cyclothymia). Under this condition, for me, days were fairly starkly divided into “up” and “down” days. I would know what kind of day it was before I even opened my eyes in the morning. If it was a “down” day I simply would not want to get out of bed. However, now, if it’s a “down” day, I can channel some “up” energy up through my spine and out through the crown of my head and turn it into an “up” day in a matter of seconds. That would have been unfathomable to me even just a few months ago. There is the potential to use your genetic data to find health supplements to try in order to treat (or pre-treat) various conditions caused by genes. I would like guidance on how best to do this, if anyone would like to comment. One of my new goals is super-health, so expect this blog to begin covering genes and supplements in the future.
I have a current supplement programme which I use to enhance my meditation, and this is as follows. I have two regimes, and I switch between them every two weeks in order that tolerance doesn’t build. The first is St. John’s Wort at a dosage of six times whatever it says on the pack. So, if it says “1 pill a day”, I will take 6 pills in the morning (women be warned: St. John’s Wort can invalidate the birth control pill). I do not invest in the good, highly refined SJW extract. Allegedly, the cheap supermarket stuff I buy is made with stems, which contain MAO inhibitors. Since these are also stimulants, I do not know why they would be discarded in the more highly refined extract. In the past I have always found that pills or capsules made from the whole plant are better than just the extract from the flower tips. The effect of St. John’s Wort is to make the kundalini up-energy more easy to build and turn into a coherent vertical upward stream. This stream appears brilliant blue-white while on St. John’s Wort. This can be used to make jhanas very intense yet relaxing. The energy stream becomes very clean and easily passes up through the spine and out the crown. The main jhana factor that stands forward from St. John’s Wort is rapture. SJW is something I had played around with many times over the years and I had always had interesting effects from it; now I know exactly how to use it in my meditation practice.
My second programme is 200mg L-theanine plus 100mg caffeine, taken in the morning 1 hour before I intend to wake up (so, take it at 6am then wake up fresh at 7am). This combination is taken straight from Absolutus’s Reddit posts, and is a personal favourite of his. The trick is that the theanine takes the edge off the caffeine quite nicely, making it non-jittery. The feeling is therefore best described as “full” (meaning one feels both energized and satisfied). This combination has subtle yet awesome effect on jhana, causing the jhana factors of bliss and equanimity to stand forward most. The equanimity particularly persists so long as the l-theanine is still circulating, which is basically all day.
In summary, my personal goals have changed from:
- “Escape life by getting enlightened”
- “Live the best life by cultivating superior mind-states and super-health, and developing the tech to help others so the same.”
Or something like that, haha. 🙂 And those are the kinds of topics that are going to be covered in the blog from now on.