Were my experiences of clarity and joy real?

May 22, 2023


Hi Robina,


I’m sitting and reflecting and running up against some questions. I’m dealing with grief about my current mental status. As we discussed earlier, I thought I had achieved enlightenment, but then the psychosis happened, and now I’m left with residual symptoms and unanswered questions as to what about my experiences were real and based in reality, and what wasn’t. 


My mind was so sharp and so clear, expansive, loving, discerning and wise, and I’m very much grasping for its return. Mainly I miss having deep self-assurance/confidence, because I felt like I could handle anything. No more fear or dread. Rather than reacting with attachment and disappointment, I’m trying to accept that this is where I am on the path, but it’s such a loss, especially when I was able to achieve it so rapidly before.


Lastly, I remember you saying when we met that what I call my “psychosis” could actually be the source of my potential. I was curious to hear more of what you meant by that.


Thank you for bearing with my questions.


With love,




Dearest R,


Whatever experiences arise in this life are from things we’ve done in the past: it’s the natural law of karma; it’s just the way it is. So if we take the view that we’ve had countless lives then clearly we’ve had countless experiences – all the good and all the bad. This is the Buddhist view.


This means you’ve practiced spiritual paths in the past, including of course Buddhism. It’s just how it is.


So those experiences of your mind being “so sharp and so clear, expansive, loving, discerning and wise” are from that. Of course they were real! But their disappearing simply shows that you have more work to do to stabilize them.


This is the crucial thing to understand. We’ve all probably achieved even single-pointed concentration, shamata, many times before; we might even have achieved bodhichitta. But we hadn’t gone far enough – that is, realized emptiness – so we lost them.


Don’t agonize over it, no need to feel grief or loss. Learn from it! Be delighted that you have this marvelous potential and determine to keep practicing, keep studying.


Until we’re quite advanced our mind is unstable. Your mind went flying up and tasted your wonderful potential, but then you crashed down. This is exactly how attachment and aversion function.


When you had those experiences you had also very strong attachment to them, and it’s the attachment that’s the problem. Of course, until we know our minds really intimately — which comes from studying the very specific Buddhist model of the mind — we don’t even notice the attachment.


And it’s because of attachment that you’re experiencing the grief that you describe; depression, aversion, etc. are the response when attachment is thwarted.


So, R, keep moving, one step at a time.


Much love,




Hi Robina,


Thank you so much. Yes, more work to stabilize and strengthen— I do look forward to this. I imagine it will be even more rewarding when I’ve put in even more time and training.


Thanks for your encouraging and kind words.





Just keep moving, with confidence and humility, R! 


More Q & A

How to decide what’s best?

QUESTION Dear Venerable Robina, I had the pleasure of watching several of your teachings and have, of course, been watching your discussions and Q&As on YouTube. My family have been listening to you and your straightforward manner has put them at ease that I’m not...

Help your father be peaceful, that’s all that matters in his old age

QUESTION Dear Venerable Robina, Hoping this finds you well. I’m having a hard time dealing with something. My mother passed recently. We’ve just discovered that she gambled away all the family money in bad investments. My father is old and refuses to acknowledge this....

We don’t know who anyone is, so don’t judge

  QUESTION Dear Venerable,   I hope that you are well.   I know that sometimes my mind has a tendency to kind of lean toward being distrustful, so I'm working on that.   There has been a couple of times in the last year or so when I have heard a...

I’m struggling to find employment

QUESTION Dear Venerable, I hope you’re doing well. I attended your teachings during your recent visit. The topic on that occasion was “Karma and Afflictions” and this is exactly the reason why I have finally got the courage to contact you. I’m really struggling to...

Share this article