About Cessation, a.k.a. Nirvikalpa Samadhi
Can you give any practical methods to make the duration a little longer?
Cessation or nirvikalpa samadhi was a hot potato for years for me. At some point I had an aha moment when I realised that I had had short cessation for thousands and thousands of times all throughout my childhood and youth. For almost 3 decades I didn't know what these moments of complete cessation were but the profound effect I was able to notice. Sometimes I even thought I was going crazy as after the lights came back familiar things and their concepts seemed unknown to me.
In my case cessations kept happening spontanously for years even during when I practiced a lot of sitting meditation (zen and later tantric yoga)every day. It didn't happen during practice which is kind of interesting. The first longer cessation took place when stream entry took place. Afterwards I found out that it lasted for about 1? hours.
I've noticed a change in the quality of these cessations. During childhood, teen years and all the way up to few years ago (I'm 36 now), it was a dramatic shift. As if very dramatically electricity goes out in a media building... and then comes back on like a drowning person gasps for air. There was this treshold to it and from it that was steep. But this treshold was worn off during the last few years. Now it is barely noticeable but subtly there. Last summer during a retreat with close students, there was longest so far cessations which lasted for about 3 hours in a row.
In yoga they speak of two kinds of cessation: 1. kevala nirvikalpa samadhi and 2. sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi. Simple translations 1. yogic cessation and 2. natural cessation are descriptive. The state of cessation is the same but the way how it happens because of the treshold wearing effect of the previous cessation, is where the difference is. I heard Tulku Urgyen say about the original state/the mind of a buddha, that there is "no arising and no cessation". In my understanding this no cessation is the same as natural cessation as there is no more cessation taking place.
If you are interested in a specific technique that I practice and teach others for (partially) this purpose, go here and read the two texts at Guru's Light-blog on Space Gazing:
Mahasi Sayadaw recommends that, if one has
sufficiently strong concentration and mature level of insight, one
simply needs to set a strong resolution to stay absorbed in the fruition for a certain period of time - and then that?s what happens. I am really curious to find out if it can work that way...
Baba wrote: Sure but I'd say that "strong" concentration gives a bit false idea how to go about it. If you clench your fist and tighten your asshole to have a "strong" intention to make cessation happen, you might end up getting hemorrhoids instead of cessation, ha. Mature level on insight? Surely so.
Hope this is of use,