Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

All things related to beginning Zen Practice. Here is where to exchange information between those that have already started Zen training and those planning to do so.
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Mason
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Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Mason » Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:06 pm

OM Shakyamuni!
Om Stian Gudmundsen Høiland, Soh Wei Yu, John Tan: My eternal superiors on this path of freedom, rare and gifted teachers in the corrupted age.

I have just returned from a week in the hospital, owing to a severe psychotic break with consensus reality. It began with a breakthrough into luminosity: the appearance of pure objects as the suchness of Mind itself. And also a breakthrough into emptiness: the non-arising and non-ceasing nature of all objects of analysis. Combined, these insights let loose such a tremendous well of energy that my human capacity for reasoning briefly shut off, and only a blissful insanity remained.

I do not wish to recount each and every delusion that was passed through. My interest is simply to detail the method for escaping insanity: that is, the most superior analytical tool available at this point to mankind: 12 links of dependent origination.

With each delusion, more objects for analysis arose, and all of them were seen to be not-self, not-real, and not-useful. The first delusion was that I was a Buddha coming to save the earth using the powers of internet communication to spread the dharma. When I was sent to the hospital, I refused to be pricked by needles, thinking “those who cut the skin of a Buddha commit a truly heinous crime.” As I analyzed that perception, it was seen to be false because, for one thing, a Buddha does not suffer. And secondly, a Buddha does not have the conceit “I am a Buddha.” Instead, a Buddha should see only what is present with discernment and what is absent with discernment. A Buddha does not conceive of sentient beings to be saved, nor does he attach to precepts and practices. Because the hospital workers had no intention to cut the skin of a Buddha, they are guilty of no crime.

In brief, all of the delusions passed through were perceptions arising on the basis of ignorance. As someone well educated in Buddhist doctrine, I understood that any perception of mine that arose was conditioned by ignorance and therefore equivalent to delusion. As such, when I went to the psych ward to be involuntarily committed, I did not quaver, nor did I lose my mindfulness. I knew that if my heart was pure and my intentions were pure, even the freezing hell of the psych ward could appear as a pure land, a place of practice. And the other patients thus appeared as old Zen monks, teaching me in various ways. This was extremely helpful, though of course psychotic and delusional.

The main takeaways from the experience were: if you want to save all beings, you must be willing to be saved by all beings. All that ever ceases, when things cease, is suffering. Pure intention and absolute honesty always lead to good results. Perception is not real, but appears in various ways with respect to the heart which perceives. Good actions are not forced, but simply happen on the basis of good intentions. And so on and so forth.

In short, the mental hospital became a field for the exhaustion of karma and the reformation of my being into a wholesome creature of beauty and light. Aside from the suffering I inflicted on my family, I do not regret anything. I have never before accomplished so much in such a short time. Do not be afraid of where you land, wherever that is: simply have faith and good intentions, and your heart/mind will be purified along with the environment into the great forest of the Sangha.
Practice hard, even if it takes you to hell and back. Because the mind possessed of Right View is indestructible and fearless. And no matter where or how you exhaust your past actions, the result will always be wholesome and delicious. I’ll be happy to answer questions if anyone has any.

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Mason
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Mason » Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:14 pm

As Yunmen said, "Every day, is a good day." Even - or especially - in the looney bin!! :hatsoff:

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[james]
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by [james] » Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:03 pm

Mason wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:06 pm
I have just returned from a week in the hospital, owing to a severe psychotic break with consensus reality.
Good to see you back (here) Mason.
I thought you were a goner.

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Mason
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Mason » Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:21 pm

[james] wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:03 pm
I thought you were a goner.
I wish I was a (thus) goner! Turns out I'm just a bit crazy.

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Enver M.
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Enver M. » Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:14 pm

Mason wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:06 pm
I have just returned from a week in the hospital, owing to a severe psychotic break with consensus reality.
welcome Mason.sorry to hear about your trouble.
I'm not a qualified teacher here but could there be something wrong with your medtitation practice?
In any psychotic attack it is recommended to give some break.would you some, friend?

My humble advice is that it would be good to give some break with meditation and only have daily life practice.

pls take some rest.simply relax!
jump to the water (how will you learn to swim)

This is Dogen's dropping off body and mind

In my words, Both Bull & Self Transcended

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Mason
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Mason » Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:25 pm

Yes Enver that's my plan. No meditation for the forseeable future, just trying to be virtuous in my daily life.

There were indeed a lot of things wrong with my meditation - mainly, it was too dry (insight oriented) when it needed to be more wet (samadhi oriented).

Thanks for your support brother. I'm just embarrased by the things I've posted on here recently, so I'd like to ask everyone on the forum for some forgiveness and acceptance. At the time, I was totally crazy and couldn't really control my actions very well.

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Enver M.
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Enver M. » Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:40 pm

No problem, bro.

Your voice sounds vivid and that's good!

Just take some rest.don't know how you get relax
a holiday some music.if you don't want anything do watch some movies/
jump to the water (how will you learn to swim)

This is Dogen's dropping off body and mind

In my words, Both Bull & Self Transcended

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Dan74
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Dan74 » Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:32 pm

Mason, glad you seem to be feeling better.

I'd like to second both the good wishes and solid advice above.

I am neither a Zen teacher nor a mental health professional, so I suggest you seek advice from them first and foremost.

My first thought was that rather than conceptualising things like "reformation of my being into a wholesome creature of beauty and light", focus on the world around you - small things, taking good care of yourself, your things, being people around you, grounding yourself in your reality and the reality of your immediate responsibilities. Basically pay attention to the details, the moments that make your day, not the lofty ideas of Buddhism. If you do formal practice, do prostrations, chanting, breath focus, scanning the body, practices that are more embodied and grounding. It's easy to become untethered from reality with an intense practice and a fervent imagination, especially without proper supervision and guidance. When you are feeling ready, it might be the right time to find a flesh-and-blood teacher you can visit and practice with.

Wishing You all the Best!!!

_/|\_

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Mason
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Mason » Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:47 pm

Thanks Dan!

Yes, I was bit uncomfortable with the "beauty and light" phrasing, but it is also accurate to my experience - I needed to go to the psych ward to truly grasp how important all my actions are. There's no more time to rationalize any bad behavior I cling to.

I will be following your advice to a T. I'm already in dialogue with psychiatrist, social worker, nurse practitioner, etc. My flesh and blood teachers - not formally, yet, but I use them as such - Shugen Roshi and Ajahn Silaratano are not too far away and I will be visiting them when the time is right. For now I need to focus on daily life though, and not spiritual pilgrimage.

Thanks for your support, friend!

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desert_woodworker
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by desert_woodworker » Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:04 am

Good to keep physical practice at least as advanced (as far as dedication of time is concerned) as meditation practice.

Diet, too, is good to purify, and to de-tox, as far as what it contains.

Drugs, too, are best to eschew (I eschew tobacco, and do not chew it [nor etc.] ).

Some of this may apply to some readers, at least.

'First thoughts, best thoughts', it's said. But here I have written them... .

Salud,

--Joe

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Mason
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Mason » Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:49 am

Thanks Joe, that's good advice. Best thought is the one which gives others joy, and you have done so! I already plan to eschew all drugs and alcohol. Still working on cigarettes and diet.

Be well!

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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Kaya » Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:43 am

desert_woodworker wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:04 am
Good to keep physical practice at least as advanced (as far as dedication of time is concerned) as meditation practice.
It might be better to consider the counsel of a MH professional about whether to continue any introspective practice. Healthier and less risky for the time being might be an outward-looking perspective.

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Mason
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Mason » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:57 am

Kaya wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:43 am
It might be better to consider the counsel of a MH professional about whether to continue any introspective practice. Healthier and less risky for the time being might be an outward-looking perspective.
I think you are right. However, all the medical professionals I've seen so far don't even really know what introspection is, so I have to make these decisions on intuition and not medical advice. :103:

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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Kaya » Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:09 am

This is really the centerpoint of the challenge: finding a competent therapist and bonding therapeutically. It can take several tries. Incorporating meditative techniques, and recognizing similarities between Buddhism and psychotherapy, have gained traction in the professional MH community. I hope you will soon be successful in your search.

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Mason
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Mason » Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:40 am

Kaya wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:09 am
This is really the centerpoint of the challenge: finding a competent therapist and bonding therapeutically. It can take several tries. Incorporating meditative techniques, and recognizing similarities between Buddhism and psychotherapy, have gained traction in the professional MH community. I hope you will soon be successful in your search.
Oh everyone knows what meditation is. They just don't see that it is a slightly risky business. Thankfully I have good teachers like you who are helping me out from the Buddhist POV.

Thanks for your support (ma'am?)

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desert_woodworker
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by desert_woodworker » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:19 am

Good purnt.

Meanwhile, do not neglect physical practice.

:namaste:

--Joe
Kaya wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:43 am
desert_woodworker wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:04 am
Good to keep physical practice at least as advanced (as far as dedication of time is concerned) as meditation practice.
It might be better to consider the counsel of a MH professional about whether to continue any introspective practice. Healthier and less risky for the time being might be an outward-looking perspective.
Ignorance is to be ignorant of one's original mind. - Ma Tsu

Liberation is awakening to one's original nature. - Ma Tsu

The World is all that is the case. -Ludwig Wittgenstein

Why weigh anything heavy?

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Anders
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Anders » Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:46 am

If I may ask, since "I went to the psych ward" doesn't really convey what was going on:

What behaviour was going on that your family had you committed? And what did they observe there to decide to release you?

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Mason
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Mason » Fri Dec 07, 2018 9:53 am

Anders wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:46 am
If I may ask, since "I went to the psych ward" doesn't really convey what was going on:

What behaviour was going on that your family had you committed? And what did they observe there to decide to release you?
I had a powerful experience which I might describe as "dissolution into suchness" which was so intense that I made a barbaric yawp in my bedroom. My family came to see what was going on and I made very intense eye contact with them, without saying anything. As they drove me to the ER, I was talking about being a Buddha and that kind of thing. Basically I couldn't handle the brilliant energy of that insight, and my marbles floated away.

As I started to get more sleep I returned to normal. When I was pretty much completely down from the peak of the mountain, relatively sane, they discharged me from the hospital. My marbles are all back in order now - for the most part.

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michaeljc
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by michaeljc » Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:54 pm

Hi Mason

Schizophrenia is very commonly genetic. Do you have ancestors with a history of this condition?

Nowadays there is also a common link with substance abuse which is not genetic.

I have a particular interest in the subject having a son who was recently discharged from hospital after 12 months treatment. His condition is paranoia psychosis aggravated by substance dependency.

Regards

M

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Dan74
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Re: Pilgrimage into the Mountains of Madness

Post by Dan74 » Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:58 pm

Over the years of reading web fora, I've come across several people describing intense practice without sufficient teacher supervision that resulted in unfortunate outcomes. I suspect everything worth saying has already been said above.

I dunno… maybe spend some time just digging dirt, getting some blisters, Mason? The light and the bliss and the universe and all that are great, but we are in this very fragile temporary body of bone and tissue and blood and other fluids and that's important to remember.

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