Blankouts – sketchy memory – ?

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Jeremy Graves 1 year, 2 months ago.

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    Hi all,

    Posting this here after abhayakara from reddit (and a trainee teacher with Culadasa but might go under a different name here!) suggested I do so.

    I’m wondering if people had any opinions or experience of something similar to the following.

    In the past few days I have noticed periods of ‘blankout’. This is not what I typically associate with cessation/fruition, which is either blinks, or longer periods (of a few seconds, possibly up to 8 or so) where it’s clearly a ‘drop out’, filled in often with some random ‘blank’ imagery, like really bright light, static space, greyness, etc.

    However, I have become aware (and it may have been happening prior to me noticing) of periods of some minutes where it’s a more substantial period of blankout. What happened just now is a good example:

    I was in third jhana. I feel the haziness/slipperiness of cessation nearby. I sort of sink into it and let it happen. So there’s a sinking, softening feeling. Then 10-15 minutes later, I sort of ‘wake up’ and think ‘where was I?’. The time is a guess – but obviously I was aware of some passing of time, or after emerging some part of me had a sense of how long I’d been wherever it was – and my bell went soon after too confirming some minutes had passed.

    And my memory is dim, of dim throbbing, low, dimmed light, and pulses that I associate with the cessations, and not much else – but the whole period is very dim and memory is sketchy. It is a bit like ‘waking up’ after a period of mind wandering, except I don’t think it is mind wandering. I checked and I was either still in third jhana, or it was very easy to slip back into it.

    So the things I wondered it could be:

    It could be 7/8th jhana – I have been exploring these and not sure if I’ve got them yet so it is hard to compare.

    I have softly had the intention to extend the cessation period, if cessations are happening, and it could be this? It didn’t have the sharp ‘here – gone -here’ quality of the shorter cessations I have experienced. But the ‘pulses’ of my memory felt like cessation pulses for some reason and my feeling is perhaps there was some link.

    I have also been drawn to exploring Nirodha Samapatti (9th jhana) so it might be that?

    It could also be very deep absorption into third jhana. But usually mindfulness is strong in jhana, whereas here I only have the sketchy memory once I’ve emerged from wherever it was.

    The dim imagery of my memory could be ‘real’ or it could be imputed after ‘waking up’.

    This has happened over the past few days.

    Thanks for any input!


    Ivan Ganza


    I noticed your posts on Reddit as well (I am WayOfMind on Reddit….)

    I’m not sure what your actually asking? What are you looking for here?

    What you describe are meditation experiences. They come, they go. Not much is to be made from it. They can be signs of progress.

    Seems you are trying to come to some definitive answer about what’s happening, or am I misunderstanding?

    Just keep going, the more you have various experiences, the more experience gained, the more it will all link together and be clear what is happening. Also listen up and read up from MANY different sources, so you can have a deep and wide understanding of various translations and such.

    Experiences are experiences.

    Insight is golden.


    (DT Teacher in Training)

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by  Ivan Ganza.

    Hi 5adja5b,

    With a handle like that, I have to ask if you’re really a droid from Star Wars!

    Anyway, thank you for coming to DTC with your questions. I suspect the reason nobody has responded besides Ivan is because it would be hard to provide advice on such rarefied experiences as arupa jhanas and nibbana without having more context about your practice. The first step in answering your questions would be to check out the credibility of your claims. In other words, people would have to know if it’s reasonable, given your practice history, for you to report you’re actually working in this refined territory. Perhaps you could discuss whom have you studied with and how closely; how long have you been practicing, with how many retreats and how many hours of daily practice; what style of jhana are you doing; etc.?

    From there, we could begin to discuss what you’re experiencing, but you would have to provide substantially more detail.

    Still, I’ll do my best to address your experiences as you’ve described them. First, I was puzzled by your description of cessation as being filled in with “bright light,” “greyness,” etc. By definition, a full cessation is a cessation of all mental formations, which means there would be a complete absence of visual phenomena during the period, including the absence of the darkness of closed eyelids or of mind-generated light as seen against closed eyelids. In other words, the mode of vision itself — whether externally derived or mentally generated — goes dormant. Now, it is possible to have a cessation of what TMI terms the “thinking/emotional mind” — thoughts and emotions suddenly drop away in a finger-snap — while sensory input, including visual data, continues. But that would not qualify as traditional cessation.

    Another concern I have is that you say these cessations “may have been happening prior to me noticing.” Not knowing what was occurring suggests dullness and a lack of mindfulness. In order for cessation to produce transformative insight, it must occur from a place of powerful mindfulness, ideally from Stages Eight, Nine, and Ten, where dullness is long a thing of the past.

    Finally, I was puzzled by the description of cessation as entailing “haziness.” My experience of cessation is that it is usually preceded by an increase in vividness and clarity, as well as mindfulness. It is quite possible to train the mind to enter at will into a kind of vacuous state of dullness and non-perception, so you want to make sure you aren’t doing that.

    That’s all I can really say for now given your description, and I might be completely off-base, but I would need to know more to say for sure.

    Yours in the Dharma,

    (Dharma Treasure Teacher)

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  Jeremy Graves.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  Jeremy Graves.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  Jeremy Graves.
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