Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:15 pm

Just as a side note, let me mention that the book includes an introduction from Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw, so presumably he approves of their project.

LE
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby meindzai » Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:16 pm

Zom wrote:
A few months of consistent practice, study and some outside pushes in the right direction can bring very good results.


Few months... well, don't know. I tried one month of intensive meditation practice in Thai, but it showed no "jhanic" results. I suppose it will take much more time and a long preparatory work in everyday life to build a strong basis for 1-7 factors of the Noble Eightfold Path before taking a "full throttle" on the 8th. And only then, probably, it will be possible to enter jhana in some months of intensive samadhi practice.

:buddha1:


Consider all the factors that may go into jhana:

1) views about practice and dhamma (widom factor)
2) presence or absence of hindrances
3) practice of sila/precepts
4) time spent
5) effort spent
6) paramis/previous life experience /natural affinity or however you want to qualify this
7) environment

Anything else? Just with these factors alone I think it's impossible to know how long it would take for anybody to attain jhana. Some people might stumble onto it while staring at a candle one day, and another person might have eons to go. I personally think it is possible for a lay person with lots of time and effort, but I am often guilty of the heinous crime of optimism.

-M
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby BlackBird » Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:49 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Just as a side note, let me mention that the book includes an introduction from Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw, so presumably he approves of their project.

LE


Jhanas Advice from Two Spiritual Friends by Stephen Snyder and Tina Rasmussen presents the ancient practices of the jhanas as experienced by two Western practitioners. The authors, taught personally by the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, completed all eight jhanas and other meditation practices under his guidance. Their book begins with the preliminary practices and then proceeds through each of the eight jhanas and accompanying practices, including tips and pointers for the reader.

Jhanas Advice from Two Spiritual Friends has been endorsed by the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw who carefully reviewed the manuscript. The Sayadaw's suggestions have been incorporated into the book.

- http://www.paauk.org/files/newbook.html

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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby Virgo » Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:41 am

There is alot of talk in this thread about the necessity of jhana. Jhana is very kusala so insight with jhana is always the highest way. But at the same time it also depends on accumulations. As far as reaching Nibbana without samatha Jhanas is concerned: http://www.abhidhamma.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=93&st=20.

As far as the book is concerned, I read it in it's original form, "Jhanas Advice From Two Spiritual Friends", Lazy-eye. It is a very good book, well worth the read. I definitely recommend it.

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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby pegembara » Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:01 am

The first broad categorization would be into "Sutta Jhanas" and "Visuddhimagga Jhanas". The Jhanas as discussed in the suttas are accessible to many people. The suttas seem to indicate that they were just part of the monastics' training program; thus they were not a big deal and were accessible to many.

However, the Visuddhimagga states in section XII.8 that of those who undertake the meditation path, only one in 1,000,000 (at best) can reach absorption 1. We don't have to take this figure literally to begin to understand that the Jhanas as discussed in the Visuddhimagga are of a much deeper level of concentration than those described in the suttas. Basically, the Visuddhimagga Jhanas seem to be much more developed and systematized than those of the suttas.

http://www.leighb.com/jhanantp.htm

http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2009/03/bg ... vipassana/
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby robertk » Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:39 am

to attain jhana one is completly removed from sense desire.

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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby PeterB » Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:49 am

I think the possibility of self deception is this area is very very high.
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby Kenshou » Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:42 pm

PeterB wrote:I think the possibility of self deception is this area is very very high.


There is always that chance, however, to quote Thanissaro:

"This was why, as long as your awareness was still and alert all-around, it didn't matter whether you were in the first or the fourteenth jhana, for the way you treated your state of concentration was always the same. By directing your attention to issues of stress and its absence, he [Fuang] was pointing you to terms by which to evaluate your state of mind for yourself, without having to ask any outside authority. And, as it turns out, the terms you can evaluate for yourself — stress, its cause, its cessation, and the path to its cessation — are the issues that define the four noble truths: the right view that the Buddha says can lead to total liberation."
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:32 pm

how long were you practicing before your intensive practice? what were you taught? i went years in zen without jhana, then living in a Wat in thailand learned the mahasi style of meditation where jhana was not taught to me and went more years without jhana, read up on it on my own went on a 10 day solo retreat at a thai wat here in america and bam there it was. did it take me 10 days to learn it or did it take me all those years of sitting to build up to it? maybe both i dont know. but i do believe that if i had started in a system that put emphasis on jhana i dont think it would have taken me so long, and that seems to be the consensus from "experts" in teaching jhana, that with the right guide, the right students will progress quickly.
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby bodom » Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:43 pm

PeterB wrote:I think the possibility of self deception is this area is very very high.


Best to study chapter V. Purification by Knowledge and Vision of What is Path and Not-path of the Visuddhimagga to avoid this trouble.

Heres a summary from Mahasi Sayadaw:

 While engaged in noticing, the meditator either by himself or through instructions from someone else, comes to this decision: "The brilliant light, and the other things experienced by me, are not the path. Delight in them is merely a corruption of insight. The practice of continuously noticing the object as it becomes evident — that alone is the way of insight. I must go on with just the work of noticing." This decision is called purification by knowledge and vision of what is path and not-path.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... s.html#ch5

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The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby bodom » Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:51 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:did it take me 10 days to learn it or did it take me all those years of sitting to build up to it? maybe both i dont know.


Thats right. Things are not that simple and clear cut. When the causes and conditions are put into effect the result will manifest in due time be it ten days or ten years.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby Freawaru » Fri Apr 16, 2010 4:43 pm

jcsuperstar wrote: did it take me 10 days to learn it or did it take me all those years of sitting to build up to it? maybe both i dont know. .


Not to mention that you might have been practising it for the last ten lives or so. According to the Visuddhimagga practice accumulates over the lives - a reason why one should consider practising jhana even if one does not get immediate results.
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby Zom » Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:15 pm

While engaged in noticing, the meditator either by himself or through instructions from someone else, comes to this decision: "The brilliant light, and the other things experienced by me, are not the path. Delight in them is merely a corruption of insight.


Brilliant light according to the suttas is a very good point worth developing and IS the path..
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby Kenshou » Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:33 pm

References? Doesn't ring a bell for me. In fact if I remember correctly becoming too enchanted with such things is one of the corruptions of insight, but I'll have to check that.
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby Zom » Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:28 am

As far as I see, light in meditation is the mind cleansed of hindrances. Don't know why that is a corruption according to the commentaries. In suttas it is said that luminous (abhassara) mind is a very good thing.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

After you made the mind like that - the concentration is stable and you can move further:

Anuruddha it occurred to me, when my concentration is limited, my knowledge is limited. With limited knowledge I perceive limited effulgence and see limited forms. When my concentration is limitless, my knowledge is limitless. With limitless knowledge I perceive limitless effulgences and see limitlessforms,throughout the night, throughout the day and throughout the night and day.

Anuruddha, when these minor defilements, such as doubts, non attenton, sloth and torpor, fear, jubilation, wickedness, too much aroused effort, too little effort, various perceptions, thinking too much about forms were dispelled, it occurred to me, now these minor defilements are dispelled and I should develop concentration in a threefold manner. Then I developped concentration with thoughts and discursive thoughts. Developped concentration without thoughts, thinking discursively. Developped concentration without thoughts and without discursive thoughtsDevelopped concentration with joy and without joy. Developped concentration which is equanimity. Then knowledge and vision arose and I knew that my release is unshakeable. This is my last birth. There is no more rebirth.


MN 128
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ma ... lesa-e.htm
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby Virgo » Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:28 pm

Zom wrote:As far as I see, light in meditation is the mind cleansed of hindrances. Don't know why that is a corruption according to the commentaries. In suttas it is said that luminous (abhassara) mind is a very good thing.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

After you made the mind like that - the concentration is stable and you can move further:

Anuruddha it occurred to me, when my concentration is limited, my knowledge is limited. With limited knowledge I perceive limited effulgence and see limited forms. When my concentration is limitless, my knowledge is limitless. With limitless knowledge I perceive limitless effulgences and see limitlessforms,throughout the night, throughout the day and throughout the night and day.

Anuruddha, when these minor defilements, such as doubts, non attenton, sloth and torpor, fear, jubilation, wickedness, too much aroused effort, too little effort, various perceptions, thinking too much about forms were dispelled, it occurred to me, now these minor defilements are dispelled and I should develop concentration in a threefold manner. Then I developped concentration with thoughts and discursive thoughts. Developped concentration without thoughts, thinking discursively. Developped concentration without thoughts and without discursive thoughtsDevelopped concentration with joy and without joy. Developped concentration which is equanimity. Then knowledge and vision arose and I knew that my release is unshakeable. This is my last birth. There is no more rebirth.


MN 128
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ma ... lesa-e.htm


The light is called nimitta. It is favorable. It comes before jhana. For people who use samatha jhanas as a basis for insight, having gained all the levels of mastery of a jhana, this is a necessary step towards jhana. It is called a corruption of insight because at that moment, insight will not occur since the object is a concept, ie. the nimitta. For Sukkavipassaka it is not necessary.

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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby Kenshou » Sun Apr 18, 2010 5:18 pm

There are quite a few interpretations of that idiosyncratic sutta, which Thanissaro points out right in the translation linked to. It makes the most sense to me to take this as a simile and not a call to develop mental hallucinations of lights.
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby Kenshou » Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:00 pm

Perhaps. I'm a little skeptical about such things. Seeing lights, etc, is certainly a real phenomena, I've even had experiences which match up with the traditional description of the light nimitta in the course of concentration practice. However, I found that it was really only during the time that I was under the impression that these were necessary that they would appear, as if I was mentally primed for them. Over time I've found that such experiences, which interesting and even very blissful, did not actually correlate with the overall progress in concentration, they were pretty random, really.

Can such things be utilized in concentration practice? I think that they can. But I don't believe that they are necessary prerequisites. They may be necessary for traditional hard samatha jhana, though unfortunately, as I understand it, such light nimittas in fact don't necessarily appear for everyone.

If your gold standard is Abhidhamma, that's fine, I simply choose to disagree a bit.
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby Kenshou » Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:06 pm

Oh, you've deleted your post. Okay, then.

Also, on the Pabhassara sutta, maybe I'm missing something but it doesn't seem to be referring to meditation practice specifically. I would think that if it were, it might be mentioned. The setup of the sutta describing how defilements come and go and yet the mind remains luminous I believe suggests an interpretation more along the lines of Thanissaro's suggestion:

A more reasonable approach to understanding the statement can be derived from taking it in context: the luminous mind is the mind that the meditator is trying to develop. To perceive its luminosity means understanding that defilements such as greed, aversion, or delusion are not intrinsic to its nature, are not a necessary part of awareness. Without this understanding, it would be impossible to practice. With this understanding, however, one can make an effort to cut away existing defilements, leaving the mind in the stage that MN 24 calls "purity in terms of mind."


However I do notice that "development of the mind" is mentioned. Weather this refers to meditation practice in particular or the path of practice as a whole, I don't think there's enough context to say, though I would lean towards the latter.
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Re: Rasmussen/Snyder "Practicing the Jhanas"

Postby Zom » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:48 pm

But this is not the only place where this luminous mind is mentioned. There are much more suttas where it is said about this luminous mind in the context of jhana. For example: MN 140 - http://www.mahindarama.com/e-tipitaka/M ... mn-140.htm

And more places, where jhana mind is also called luminous.
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