Johnny Dangerous wrote:How is it possible to validate one's own experience of insight, to decide that a given meditation experience is "real" rather than fanciful? I know the simple answer here is to ask a teacher, but i'm wondering outside of that simple answer. Should we trust our intuition, and to what degree?
Genuine insight changes you although the change may be too subtle for others to see. Genuine insight is also "permanent" - according to the sutras and tantras this is *NOT*
actually the case but they are talking from lifetime to lifetime. Genuine insight does change you in this lifetime but until you reach the 1st bhumi, you can always regress (this is the point about the sutras and tantras I was making above). In fact until you reach the 8th bhumi in some teachings you can regress (Sakya always says 1st bhumi but both teachings may be true because they are talking about different things). HHDL says that meditative insight is permanent from lifetime to lifetime which is why he wants everyone to study "philosophy" - because you then take that into analytic meditation and gradually deepen realization on universal lovingkindness and compassion as a start.
However meditative insight is also dependent upon one's view. If one is a kind of theist, then you get a kind of theist insight. It's still valid but it's valid in their view and experience. Sometimes however people can get meditative insight and go off the deep end which is why we need to check our insight with teachers.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:Additionally, can these experiences be correctly remembered and described, or does that act alter them to the point that they are not the same animal?
Genuine insight takes a while to digest. It can be remembered and remembered correctly but that is not the same thing as the experience itself (so they are not the same animal). And the actual realization is also not the experience of the insight. The insight occurs and you know it but you don't necessarily really know what the insight actually is (an idea suggests itself and this begins the process which can take a while). The actual experience of the insight could be a peak experience but that itself is not the actual insight or the realization (realization in these terms is sort of the digestion of the actual insight).
The insight itself may be very minor but can have far reaching consequences: something like "Oh I better not intentionally kill insects" or "I shouldn't physically harm beings". Both of these can be found in society (as well as the much stronger societal directive to kill insects or to physically harm beings) but the insight that these are true arises internally and is self-confirmatory. This self-confirmatory characteristic is why people can go off the deep end too. The self validation is correct but may need to be tempered.