When I first began to truly become a conscious spiritual aspirant, I read about samadhi. The yogi’s have described various types of samadhi states. Samadhi, in the yogic context, often translates to: absorption or the highest stage of meditation. Really samadhi is our natural state but is held in great esteem because most of humanity has masked their natural state with so many layers of unreality. So samadhi is not an achievement of any kind. It is here, always, already present.
While in my room, at the recent monthlong silent meditation retreat at Spirit Rock, suddenly everything went away, the mind was not only still, it seemed to have vanished and so did ‘I’. There was just witnessing the unfolding of all things. The body was still but then the lunch bell began to gong and the body got up and moved towards the feed zone. Silently bodies began to emerge from dorm rooms, walkways and march down the hillside. There was amazement, watching the bodies, the Turkeys, the hawks, all of nature:all of them were me and yet none of it was me-all at the same time. I went through the buffet line and the hands grabbed a plate and put food on without any thought or movement of mind. Sitting down with my plate, eyes open, the beingness in the body just pouring forth was the taste of what is often called: “the peace that surpasses all description”. ‘I’ wasn’t necessary; ‘I’ wasn’t really there.
Several more periods of samadhi occurred on retreat and with them emerged something quite peculiar. It could easily be called low-intensity vertigo (dizziness, light-headedness, felt sense of spinning) with high-intensity tinnitus. For a brief moment the mind became agitated and went into damage control mode but just as suddenly the mind slipped into obscurity. For those that may be unfamiliar, tinnitus is defined as: noise or ringing in the ears, roaring, buzzing, clicking, hissing, etc. It is said to be a symptom of an underlying condition, like-inner ear cell damage, earwax blockage, ear bone changes TMJ, head injuries, high blood pressure and has even been associated with a disease label: Meniere’s disease.
Tinnitus is listed as an incurable condition but the internet is full of links listing remedies and stock full of treatments to ‘minimize its ‘debilitating, annoying, crazy-making’ effects. It is said that 20 percent of the population may have it in one form or another.
The tinnitus label did not fit; it wasn’t being bought. Intuitively I sensed all was well, that to attempt to ‘treatment it away’ with acupuncture, herbals, niacin, iodine, a neti pot, homeopathics, craniosacral therapy, etc was a desperate ploy of the mind, because mind cannot survive without disturbance; it only knows disturbance. For a minute or so it screamed, tried to turn this ‘ringing’ into something, fleeting flashes of immanent doom, fortunately thoughts trying to be grasped were like touching a hot stove, instantly found to be empty of real substance. I could find no problem in it. The mind then tried to distract turning the perception of the sound into an old Tommy Dorsey Big Band era tune in attempt to keep a separate sense of identity (‘me’ and the ‘big band sound’). I sensed that something else was going on and that intense meditation had brought about this response. On returning home, I found an interesting link from a Buddhist teacher named Ajahn Sumedho where the term: ‘meditation-induced tinnitus’ was used. Got to love the Buddhist’s, these practitioners have gone into and experienced just about everything via inner exploration. From the link:
“As you calm down, you can experience the sound of silence in the mind. You hear it as a kind of high frequency sound, a ringing sound that’s always there. It is just normally never noticed. Now when you begin to hear that sound of silence, it’s a sign of emptiness-of silence of the mind. It’s something you can always turn to . . . One problem with meditation is that many people find it boring. People get bored with emptiness. They want to fill up emptiness with something. So recognize that even when the mind is quite empty, the desires and habits are still there, and they will come and want to do something interesting. You have to be patient, willing to turn away from boredom and from the desire to do something interesting and be content with the emptiness of the sound of silence. . .”
The Buddhist even have a name for this: Dibba-sota or ‘divine ear’ where it is said to be a blessed occurrence (not the annoying curse we associate with tinnitus).
Later I found other spiritual references to this, from the Yoga Sutra’s:
“Through becoming saturated in meditative absorption (samadhi) the habits of the mind, perceiver, perceiving, and perception, dwindle until transparent as a jewel. The Sufi Master Rumi writes:
“A million suns come forward with light, when I sit firmly in this world. I hear bells ringing that no one has shaken, Inside ‘love’ there is more joy than we know. . .”
Now, ultimately it doesn’t really matter which of these stories are true in this particular case. They are all stories. Whatever will happen, will happen. Could a previous head trauma ( I have had numerous concussions, fractured skull, broken noses, etc) switched hearing aids a month before retreat, started using a lipotrophic vitamin C product that is a known heavy metal chelator–could that have caused mercury redistribution in the brain)? The grasping for answers is endless. So it is nice to rest in whatever is, just as it is. I call it peace.