Recognize Different Meditation Experiences
During meditation, we would have some experiences and will feel good. However, when experiences appear, it is necessary for us to distinguish those temporary ones from the real sign of realization. In Buddhism, it is mentioned that three types of experiences—clarity, bliss and absence of thoughts—that, though they make us feel good, are not the ultimate state of meditation. Without being aware of this, one may not proceed to the ultimate level of meditation.
Maybe many of you already have had some experiences in meditation. But you need to pay attention to these experiences. Before you truly realize the nature of the mind, you may rest in a state in which you are able to place your mind—a state of clarity without any darkness, clear and bright—and this is possible to be achieved through some advanced Buddhist practices. However, this state actually is not the ultimate state of meditation that we shall seek. This is the first point we should notice.
Another one that needs our attention is, you may have the experience of being free from all sufferings and enjoying great bliss, very comfortable and without any pain, and you are willing to stay in this state for a long time and do not want to come out from it. Well temporarily speaking, you can practice in this way, but in the long run, it’s also not the ultimate state.
One more thing that needs to be avoided is the experience of absence of thought, in which state all gross conceptual thoughts like greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance and jealousy just disappear. Neither is there experience of clarity or bliss. It is a state in which all thoughts just disappear and you enjoy being in that state for a long time. Yet it’s still not the ultimate meditation.
In sum, these three states are the states of clarity, bliss, and absence of thoughts. Though in these three states of meditation, one can rest one’s mind and be free from gross thoughts and sufferings, they still belong to worldly meditation. With continual practicing and going forward there will be no experience of clarity, bliss or absence of thoughts, and the mind just rests in a state of pure emptiness, this belongs to a medium level of meditation.
These four experiences of clarity, bliss, absence of thought and emptiness can be effective in suppressing the delusive thoughts that we are unable to control in daily life. But in the long term in order to persistently suppress and even eliminate all conceptual thoughts, we need to develop Vipassana, or the insight into the true nature of reality.