“After the Bodhisatta spent six years pursuing ascetic practices to their limit, he finally set out alone to discover another method to fulfill his aim. He had realized that self-torture was not the solution, so he started to consume normal food again. He walked to the place now known as Bodh Gaya in Bihar, India. There he began to meditate under a tree, using a method he recalled from a spontaneous childhood experience of meditation. He was determined either to attain full liberation then and there or else to die in the attempt.
According to tradition, as the Bodhisatta struggled against Mara beneath the Bodhi Tree, when Mara challenged his right to attain awakening, he asked the earth to witness how he had perfected himself for so long to reach Buddhahood. Many devas and brahmas joined the battle, vouching for his completed paramis. Thereupon Mara, along with his evil troops, was routed and fled the scene. This “calling the earth to witness” is memorialized in innumerable paintings and statues: the Bodhisatta, seated cross-legged in meditation posture, touches the ground by his knee with his right hand, a gesture intended to draw forth its testimony.”
from: Teacher of the Devas, Susan Elbaum Jootla
I like this story, not because I have much right to compare myself to the Bodhisatta, but sometimes it’s fun to find little similarities, anyway.
My first experience with meditation was also a spontaneous experience, in my childhood sandbox.
I was no more than three, so again, not much in the way of thinking, so I’m not sure how much was achieved, but maybe that’s what made it so easy.
I don’t know how often I would do this, but I remember one time very clearly. I filled my bucket with sand, turned it over, and sat on it to pack it down well. The moment my butt hit the bucket and I gazed out over the marsh, I was gone… very gone… I don’t know how much time went by, but when I came to I felt a chill like there had been a sudden change in the temperature, daylight seemed suddenly dimmer, and the sand in the bucket was very well compressed, but I was not aware of time having passed. I know that this was more zoning out than meditating, especially Vippassana, which I don’t know many three years capable of practicing. But there must have been something going on in that time. Something that kept me breathing, something that wasn’t being disrupted by thoughts or desires, something that the earth was very much connected to.
I’m really curious about the Buddha’s childhood experience. As the line points out, there was a method, which means even as a child he must have been quite advanced, perhaps residue from a past life? He had very favorable Karma, indeed!