Ed,  My responses:

Hello Mike, Bill, Edgar, Mayka, Anthony, JM and All,

A few questions (which may stimulate comments/dialogue) come to mind:

(1)   In meditation practice, is pain a necessary ingredient for the
breakthrough to bliss and ecstasy?

No.

(2)   Is this phenomenon similar to or identical with the bliss and ecstasy
reported by some or many masochists in BDSM practices?

Probably the same bodily mechanisms are involved.

(3)   Is this experience explainable as a natural process, or does it call
for postulating the intervention of supra-natural forces?

There is no such thing as 'super-natural', so it's not that.

(4)   Are these cycles of pain and bliss a necessary concomitant of the
process of realizing one's Buddha Nature?

No.

(5)   Have Zen masters made any statements concerrning the naturalness or
supra-naturalness of 'Buddha Nature'.

No, not in the sense of categorizing.  Buddha Nature is the quintessential
of human nature.

I do look forward to your understandings and insights.

--ED

 

--- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com, Mike wrote:
>
> Mayka,
> 
> Well, a 10 day vipassana course is pretty much like an 8 day sesshin
except in the following ways. The vipassana course goes for 10 days and
there is absolutely no talking, reading, writing or any form of
communication whatsoever. Wake up at 4am; last meal 11.30am; lights out at
9.30pm. Mediatate all other times. 

> There is no emphasis on how you sit to meditate and you can use whatever
you like (any number of cushions etc). The first 4 days just gets you to
concentrate on the air moving in and out of you nostrils with the 4th day
concentrating only on the space below the nostrils where the breath
enters/exits. 

> On the 5th the Vipassana 'technique' proper begins which involves a kind
of 'scanning' of the body (from head to toe) or subtle sensations. This has
the effect of pushing the consciousness into very subtle levels. 

> On the 5th or 6th day you're expected to not move for one hour - not one
movement! This is realllllllllllllly difficult and pushes you into levels of
pain you cannot begin to imagine! However, an amazing thing happens. 

> You can be in intense pain around the 40 minute mark (if you haven't
moved), but suddenly the body/mind experiences a letting go of the pain and
changes to intense bliss and euphoria - and I mean ecstasy (personally, I
don't think this is anything 'spiritual', but just the effect of
endorphins). 

> The lesson learnt is that nothing lasts (pleasure - pain) and so not to
cling to/avert anything. Equanimity is the state that walks that middle
line. Now, this may all seem pretty obvious to those of us aquainted with
Zen and Buddhism *but* reading or imaging pain/pleasure is one thing, but
the intense experience of it (try not moving *at all* for one hour) is
another.

Furthermore, the course is absolutely free of any religious
icons/paraphenalia and is also completely free of cost (incl. accom. and
food). An amazing experience. The SAS of the meditation retreats!
>  
> Mike





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