In life, direct experience is what matters. I felt that I had empathy and understanding of physical difficulty and handicaps before Multiple Sclerosis, but living it – the direct experience of it every hour of the day – certainly brought home aspects of understanding and empathy that nothing other than direct experience could provide. This is so in meditation as well.
The direct experience of tranquility or clarity or of how erratic and incessant one’s mind can be provide something incontrovertible, undeniable. Those living with their homes flooding every high tide or with water being rationed or living poisoned lives due to a factory up-river know beyond doubt that which the person living somewhere else might still question. Direct experience, one’s own experience, provides that which no conversation or graphic can.
My night time meditation brought into my experience such peace and clarity that, momentarily, everything stopped.
When thought arose again, it was from the Buddha. “When this is that is. When this ceases that ceases.” Cessation.
The benefits that derive from shamatha are innumerable. The results of shamatha are profound – including enlightenment. As one undoes the habit of doing, one is allowing a new habit to ensue. It is that which feels like “being.” What true “being” is, no one can say. It would be indescribable. Usually, the great ones offer what “being” is by poetically saying what it is not. My experience of momentary cessation allowed nothing to be my experience; not even an observer was present momentarily. I will never forget it; and I now can understand and “observe” the Buddha’s teaching more acutely.
The experience produced a vipashyana – a purer perception. And, this is why we are meditating in general and with this cycle, and why the personal sharing. Shamatha is like water on planet Earth. Without it, nothing else is possible.