Three Testimonials from Meditators at the Bonhays UK Retreat - Sept 2023
Hi David, Summer 2022
Thank you for replying so quickly!
To try to spare you a wall of text I’ll expand on cessation 1 and give the gist of the rest. This happened to me on my own self-retreat using your book The Path to Nibbana
Cessation 1 & 2 - Re: your questions
-Sense of coming back from a place I didn’t know I left - Yes for both.
-Lasting joy yes. Ecstatic excited joy after cessation 1 and balanced calm joy after cessation 2
-Colors brighter, hearing better, smell more acute, very quiet for both.
Cessation 1: Was in the pre-Cessation Jhana for about 90 minutes. Blacked out. As I came to, I was floating away from something and heard a faint voice questioning about Joseph. It was either “who’s Joseph?” or “Where’s Joseph?” and what looked like a blue child’s nightlight turned on and I could see a door on a huge rock face, above the door was a signpost that said “Joseph” There was definitely a sense of “How’d I get here?” as this was happening. Then my inner narrator came back online and said something like “Wait, was that it??? No way.” And then I felt this humongous wave of relief/ecstasy that emanated from my face and then an even bigger wave spread out from my shoulders area and across my whole body. As I leaned forward I had this sensation of my entire body shattering into hundreds of tiny electrified orbs. My eyes wouldn’t stay closed - trying to keep them closed made them twitch and they sprang open. As I looked around (mostly slowly staring without blinking) I let out a big “Ahhhhhhhhhh” and everything was very quiet and colors were brighter, more vivid - like the saturation was turned up. I was ecstatically happy - had a huge smile on my face and was dancing around and waving my arms like a conductor.
Per your book, I didn’t want to waste any time and went to sit again for the fruition. My eyes wouldn’t stay closed, it was like the light was too bright even for closed eyelids. I gave myself 20 minutes to calm down and reviewed your section about the fruition, turned out the light and sat back into my chair.
Cessation 2: Blackout, floating away from something (“How did I get here?”) saw what looked like 3 halogen lamps flickering on as I floated away from them. Same with eyes - couldn’t stay shut. This in fact was the case with all the cessations. Big relief but not as big, was mostly located around my shoulders, not whole body. My face felt like it absolutely melted of all tension. Joy became calmer, more balanced.
Cessation 3: No blackout or sense of coming back from an unremembered place as far as I know, but felt a big (less than first 2) relief again after drifting into warbling bubbles that were encased in each other. As I dove in felt pressure in the face and then the Relief came, localized in face. Even more quiet afterwards. Colors popped again. Afterwards I had some ice cream and I felt I could taste it more clearly though it wasn’t so exciting. (This stood out as I have a massive sweet tooth) Cessation 4: Again drifted/dove into warbling concentric circles/bubbles. I could similar pressure in face and then relief in face. Sense of where am I? Yes. (Was at the entrance of a house either giving or receiving sake) Saw fractal-y imagery afterwards.
Cessation 5: Similar to 4. Dove into rings, massive tension in face released, relief. Discernible flickering at right ear. Balanced contentment, not big joy. Visual acuity up, world massively silent. No blackout or where was I?
Feeling. Cessation 6: Woke up in the middle of the night. And then the following occurred: I had the distinct epiphany that the “self” is tacked on. Saw a field of floating lights, relief/ecstatic feeling in the face but very small! Like a “spritz” of ecstasy. Distinct ringing in the ears I remember from other cessations - a “loud” silence Had that moment of “huh? What was that?” And saw this image of a block of wood with a threaded pole sticking out. A nut was screwed on that serves its purpose to secure the block (and I think another, securing that one) but then a third, unnecessary screw was screwed on top of that - totally unnecessary. Looking forward to your thoughts on any of this.
Warm regards, Meditator from Japan
Dhamma Sukha Comments: From a survey
From a survey dated July 24, 2018
Anything Else- Please Comment
"I appreciate being able to attend a retreat when it's convenient for me. I also really liked that there weren't a lot of other meditators there; the small group really worked for me. The interviews with Bhante every day were great, as were the dhamma talks. Overall, it was an excellent, life-changing experience and I've been recommending it to everyone I know who might be interested. "
Comment on any issues with Lodging
I had one of the newer, smaller cabins, and it was just the right amount of space. There was enough room on the floor for stretching and not too many places for bugs to hide!
I really Liked it
Comments about food:
I liked the healthy options and the treats!
From a survey dated July 23, 2018
Comment on any issues with Lodging
Nice cabin not to much in the cabin to distract. Bed was comfy and slept great.
Comments on above
The area was beautiful.
Anything Else- Please Comment
Beautiful place and great people keep up the good work and thank you!
Testimonial/Story -Russ from San Francisco
"I have a background in gambling mathematics and collective intelligence. I measure the accuracy of information. This was previously applied to gambling theory but more recently applied to derivatives pricing theory and capital markets trading. I am deeply quantitative, analytical, and invented a variety of derivative structures now widely used. Given my career on Wall Street where my primary role was to measure the value of information and to calculate probabilities of events, I make a living measuring the truthfulness of claims so I am highly cynical and skeptical. I'm good at what I do - my track record speaks for itself. I have very little to prove to others in the way of quantifying truth or vouching for things I don't believe in.
"Therefore, I approached the Dhamma Sukha experiment with no small amount of skepticism. I was acutely cynical. And I would consider myself highly credible. So below is my true account of my experience with Bhante Vimalaramsi's Retreat Experience during March of 2018.
"I had been practising meditation off and on for about 4 years, but was no Dharma expert. I was fluent in a few of the concepts, but not deeply studied. My previous experience was mindfulness of breath and I would often struggle to get a 40 minute meditation session. This tended to require a lot of effort, was not all that enjoyable, certainly a struggle, and bit of chore. I didn't know a lot about Buddhism. I'd never heard of dependent origination at all, for example.
"My back-story, was that I was going through some personal challenges and decided I needed to go on a retreat to relieve some stress. So did some research on retreats available in the area during that calendar period, and basically signed up sight unseen to the Dhamma Sukha Easter Retreat. In fact, when I arrived, and I saw the sign for Dhamma Sukha, I wasn't even sure it was the right place. But wow, was I incredibly fortunate to have found this experience!!
"A few weeks before the retreat I decided that I needed to research Bhante V, and did a few searches and came to the conclusion he was certainly controversial, and is either incredibly wise and getting legitimately fantastic results or slightly unstable. :-) AND coming into it I thought the later, because his claims of success/progress were bold relative to anything I had read previously. I had skimmed the 6Rs in his book, didn't understand them, and wasn't actually going to use them on the retreat. I thought I would just be left to myself to take a break, meditate on my own, and wouldn't have a daily check in-so could do my own thing. On the first evening when Bhante V arrived, from his presence I realized, he is the real deal, and my previous plan of doing my own thing was ill-conceived. So I committed to practising the 6Rs and following exactly what he told me: no more ... no less. Mainly because he reminded me of my father and out of respect for him (and my father) I would be totally compliant and would only tell him the truth (Previously, I had decided to fake it). And so I committed to following his instructions(!). I had no expectation from the retreat other than relaxing and clearing my mind and dealing with my personal challenges. In the opening talk when Bhante V said a large number of people would sit for 3 to 4 hours per meditation session, and highlighted the likely progress and expectations, I distinctly remember thinking that will definitely not be me.
"Once I understood Bhante's definitions and the 6Rs they immediately made sense. Intellectually, but more importantly how they mapped with my limited understanding of the Dharma, but most importantly experientially. I could feel my body and mind letting go. I could actually see and experience the sensations described in the Jhanas. When I started practicing them the results were immediate, rather than fighting through meditation sessions and wrestling with thoughts, the sessions were enjoyable and flowed ... I just started to realize that I can do this and there was a huge potential and incredible opportunity here. About 3-4 days into the week something clicked, I became confident that I could go very deep and possibly reach cessation. I was right on schedule and everything I was experiencing was as promised and as expected. Bhante knew exactly where I was on my path and actively guided me to the next experience. What he said it would happen, it happened.
"Based on my experience, I strongly believe that if you commit to this process, amazing life transforming developments can happen, and most likely will happen. They happened to me. I'm nothing special. And in spite of my initial cynicism.
Truly wonderful things happened to me, I am blessed. I am a different better person as a result and these changes are permanent. And I wish for all of those looking for the path, TWIM is it. Look no further.
Below is a letter we received from a past retreatant about their experiences on a TWIM retreat.
This page will be updated from time to time.
Testimonial/Story -Poem by Charlene Haeuw about her Retreat