Taken from the Heart Sutra Workshop, class 1, Ken hears from students about their meditation experience. Some students found they had been trying to control their experience of meditation. The question he asks them is, "What experiences this?"
This refers to the guided meditation of Opening to all Elements also found on Clips & Quotes.
So this is what the Buddha was doing. How was this for you? At the back there. [Microphone discussion]
Student: So the shift that I experienced was that...well I think I didn't quite understand you the first time you said it. So I was kind of sort in sort of a limbo. And then when you said it again, it felt like the room got a lot brighter for me and bigger. And more stable it was like a sense of something stabilizing or getting still. But then it felt like, I felt afraid. Had some sort of weird sense of I couldn't really figure out what I was afraid of but it felt like...edgy.
Student: Edgy, yeah.
Ken: Thank you. Anybody else?
Student: I turned 60 this year and I have to say I did not understand the question. I heard "what" and I heard "experience," that was all that I heard. Is that all you said? What experience?
Ken: No. What experiences this?
Student: What experiences this? Thanks.
Student: For me I had a very familiar experience of a lot of contraction and a lot of trying to make sense of everything. (laughter from Ken) And do it right and get the experience.
Ken: It's very important to do it right, isn't it?
Student: Yeah, yeah. But when you asked the question and I repeatedly asked the question there were moments of some relaxation.
Ken : Okay. There's somebody up here.
Steven: As I was doing the process, the exercise as you were guiding us, I felt like I was doing pretty good with adding more and more elements to the experience. Sort of going back and forth between what I was thinking about, different things that were coming through. But basically staying with the whole thing, pretty much. When you asked the question, for me there was this pointing out of--oh, you know sort of like a "Oh, there's the me that's sort of coordinating this whole thing." And in that moment I had this; something dropped away and I don't know it was just something dropped away.
Ken: How was that?
Steven: I don't know how to answer the question. It was...
Ken: Well, did you like it?
Student: I felt good, yeah. I would say...
Ken: Was it frightening?
Steven: No, I wouldn't say it was frightening. It was...I don't know. It was like pointing out something obvious that I hadn't seen before.
Ken: Okay. Would you like to live there?
Ken: Okay, Vicki.
Vicki: Well, to follow up on Steven's. So in my natural ego clinging state I was sure you made a mistake. (laughter) Because you didn't say "Who experiences all of this?" Instead you said "WHAT experiences all this?"
Ken: Oh you're right.
Vicki: But obviously as Steven said, when I realized you didn't make a mistake, and you intended to do "What experiences all this?" there was that feeling of letting go and this is okay. And I don't have to run the while thing.
Ken: Ah, running the whole thing's very important!
Vicki: It's exhausting!