When serious meditators practice one pointed mindfulness on the breathe continuously for a long dedicated period of time there comes a point when the breathe becomes very very subtle and eventually disappears completely. It’s not that we stop breathing but we stop “seeing” the sensation of the breath. Instead, in a practice dedicated to the attainment of full absorption, the breathe turns into a shiny bright light. It looks like little golden jewels. This is known to be a concentration sign (nimita) or what my beloved teacher Pa-Auk Sayadawji calls the passport to “Jhana land” (Jhana means full absorption). If the meditator continues to practice he/she learns to track that same sign not just in front of them but also on their mental heart/mind door. We eventually realize that this shiny bright light image is a mirror of the heart/mind.
When I first saw that light coming out of my heart I couldn’t get enough of it. I was so enchanted with it I just kept wanting more and more. Despite my teacher’s encouragements and admonishment to let it go, drop my attachment to what he called an inferior stage of practice, and continue to strive for full liberation I ended up stagnating my practice for a while and stayed with the light.
I simply couldn’t believe there would be so much light coming out of my heart. couldn’t believed it happened on it’s own in such a choice-less way – exactly like the breath. I couldn’t believe it was infinite. I couldn’t believe it was so gold and beautiful. I couldn’t grasp the idea that if the golden light sign is the mirror of my heart, it actually means that “my” heart was so beautiful and that “my” heart was sending out endless beautiful golden ray of lights.
Only when I was absolutely certain that this light is not going to disappear and when I was finally willing to accept that this is not what enlightenment is about, I was able to let go. I continued the practice and realized that my teacher was right and that there are far more blissful states of consciousness in there. But that realization of the beautiful mind stayed with me. It was mind blowing reassuring to know, to really know, that the light in the mind is inexhaustible. It enabled me be more at ease with my aspirations and dedication to do for others knowing that there is an infinite source of love and light in the mind. It freed me to aspire to love selflessly.
Don’t be afraid to love
For various reasons I deliberately refrain from sharing meditative experiences with people other than my teachers. Still, today I share this meditative experience with you only because I know beyond doubt that each and everyone of you have a source of infinite light and love in your mind. You ARE that light.
Please don’t be discouraged of you don’t “see” it. It does take allot of time and effort as well as a great teacher, good karma and almost perfect conditions to purify oneself to the extent that the light is visible to our mind’s eye. But even if you won’t get a first hand experience of it in this life I assure you it is there. It is there if you already lead a selfless loving way of life and it is there even if you perceive yourself to be “evil” angry or “ill intended”. In any case you have bright light coming out of your mind. This light is a manifestation of your breath. Thus, the exact same way you breath effortlessly and unintentionally (until you drop dead ), there is light coming out of your mind. So don’t be afraid to share your light. Don’t be afraid to give. Don’t be afraid to share your merits and good fortune with others and don’t be afraid to love.
The practice of gratitude prepared our hearts for unconditional loving kindness. Every time we paused to appreciate and be grateful for someone or something. Every small exercises in appreciation to our benefactors. Every moment of acknowledging our own kindness. Every single moment of appreciating neutral people who have no immediate influence on our life. Each realization of our oneness and interconnectedness and ultimately finding ourselves compassionate and even grateful to the difficult people in our lives. These are all manifestations of our capacity to love. Our capacity for metta.
So far, we always had a particular face of someone to appreciate. A particular image and story to express our gratitude towards. Today, I’d like us to focus on radiating limitless metta to ALL beings in ALL ten directions.
I have previously written on what. why and how to practice traditional metta. So this is a very brief summary. The practice begins with wishing ourselves to be well, happy and peaceful. So just for this moment stop. put your hand on your heart and whisper inwardly “May I be well, happy and peaceful”. You can repeat that a few times. Now bring to mind one of your benefactors – someone you are utterly grateful for and wish the same for them “may you be well happy and peaceful”. Do the same with a neutral person, a difficult one and your enemy if you have one.
Now contemplate with me on well wishing to all beings in all ten directions. May all beings. All breathing beings. All living beings. All creature. All sentient beings. All beings with personalities. May they be well, happy and peaceful. May all female. All male. All noble beings. All non noble beings. All celestial beings. All human beings. All beings who live in lower realms of existence. May all beings be well happy and peaceful.
May all beings to the east. All beings to the west. All beings to the north. All beings to the south. May all beings to the south-east. All beings to the north-east. All beings to the south-west. All beings to the north -west. All beings above. All beings below. May all beings be well happy and peaceful. May they be free from physical sufferings. May they be free from mental suffering. May they be free from all forms of suffering. May they take care of themselves happily. May they be at peace.
Traditionally a yogi sits and wish well first to himself, then a benefactor etc and eventually to all the 12 categories of beings in every single. i.e. may all living being to the east be well happy and peaceful. May all breathing being to the east be well happy and peaceful. May all creatures to the east be well happy and peaceful and so on. This way every single direction. It takes months to complete “properly” the whole “round”. If you have a day to dedicate try and practice metta in this way. It might feel funny initially but there is no second to the practice of metta in openings the hearts and the minds.
Words like spacious, infinite, boundless, endless, limitless, never born, never dies, inexhaustible, emptiness, oneness, unity, that which never changes – took on a whole different meaning and countless additional layers of meaning when I practiced unconditional love for three months. I wish each and every one of you will one day have the fire and the incredible good fortune to do the same.
May your soul stays forever young and fresh. May you live with a grateful heart and infinite metta.