How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

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Strive
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How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby Strive » Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:29 am

I was wandering how hard is it to attain the supramundane Jhana? Is it possible to attain the supramundane jhana without even knowing it, or knowing what they are with just pure faith in the Buddha? Like going to a retreat for the first time and following the instructions with all your heart? I ask because I heard some people describe that they reached the stages of supramundane Jhana but I don't think they even knew what jhana was. Or they where just mistaken or something. :quote:
Last edited by Strive on Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Faith is here a man's best treasure;
Dhamma practised well brings happiness;
Truth is really the sweetest of tastes;
One living by wisdom they say lives best."--Bhikkhu Bodhi's Samyutta Nikaya, Sagathavagga verse 853

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:57 am

Strive wrote:I was wandering how hard is it to attain the supramundane Jhana? Is it possible to attain the supramundane jhana without even knowing it, or what they are with just pure faith in the Buddha? Like going to a retreat for the first time and following the instructions with all your heart? I ask because I heard some people describe that they reached the stages of supramundane Jhana but I don't think they even knew what jhana was. Or they where just mistaken or something. :quote:
There are some experienced and knowledgeable jhana-practitioners here who may be able to address your questions, but thing I would recommend is working in and out of a retreat settings with an experienced teacher who has worked with an experienced teacher. One hopefully will be less likely to take a toddle down the garden path, an all to easy thing to happen by those who guide themselves.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby Kenshou » Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:08 am

I thought "supramandane jhana" was, as per Theravadin abhidhamma, the state of the citta when attaining one of the 4 stages of awakening. Which in theory would make it as hard to reach as, well, reaching one of those. Which most people would say is pretty hard. But I don't know, have a thread instead: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4064

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby Strive » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:53 am

Thanks for the replies guys!

Yeah because I heard some people say that they reached a stage where they didn't feel anything in their body. Then after the retreat I thought to myself if it is even possible for someone to reach that high of an attainment without even knowing what jhana was? Then I read in the suttas that one of the Buddha's of the past chief disciple, (I forget his name but it meant survivor) well he went to a foot of a tree and entered a state of cessation of perception and feeling with no difficulty. The people around him thought that he was dead so they burned him alive. Then later on they see him going for almsround and they where amazed of his powers. That is how he got the name survivor. But still I don't know if he knew what the supramundane jhana was before he went to meditate at the foot of the tree.
"Faith is here a man's best treasure;
Dhamma practised well brings happiness;
Truth is really the sweetest of tastes;
One living by wisdom they say lives best."--Bhikkhu Bodhi's Samyutta Nikaya, Sagathavagga verse 853

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 6:31 pm

Hi Strive,

Dropping feelings in the body isn't necessarily supramundane, or even jhana. It just indicates a high degree of focus on the meditation object.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby Strive » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:19 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Strive,

Dropping feelings in the body isn't necessarily supramundane, or even jhana. It just indicates a high degree of focus on the meditation object.

:anjali:
Mike


Thanks Mikenz66,

Yeah that is a great point too. And I even heard cases where people's body parts could of been sleeping or numb from sitting long periods or circulation. I guess I didn't want to doubt people because I don't know how hard it is to attain jhana, Then I thought of that questions.

:anjali:
Last edited by Strive on Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"Faith is here a man's best treasure;
Dhamma practised well brings happiness;
Truth is really the sweetest of tastes;
One living by wisdom they say lives best."--Bhikkhu Bodhi's Samyutta Nikaya, Sagathavagga verse 853

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Jan 02, 2011 3:17 pm

Strive, it is possible to attain mundane and then, supramundane jhana. But it takes a diligent practitioner who has his life's goal as reaching stream entry or beyond. No 'part timers' allowed.
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby Strive » Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:45 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Strive, it is possible to attain mundane and then, supramundane jhana. But it takes a diligent practitioner who has his life's goal as reaching stream entry or beyond. No 'part timers' allowed.


Thanks for the reply rowyourboat!

I only been meditating for about a 1 and a half years and I'm very interested in jhana. I guess it is harder to reach jhana than I thought, nevermind supramundane jhana.
"Faith is here a man's best treasure;
Dhamma practised well brings happiness;
Truth is really the sweetest of tastes;
One living by wisdom they say lives best."--Bhikkhu Bodhi's Samyutta Nikaya, Sagathavagga verse 853

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby Goedert » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:06 am

Mundane Jhanas are good and powerfull. You can see the whole system working.

It is very easy to become enchanted with the new jhana world, so remember the three marks of existence and try to see it.

Supramundane jhanas can't be explained by words of mouth, just by silence and emptiness.

Tiltbilings gave to you the best advice here.

Take care.

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:30 pm

This might be a helpful and handy guide on the subject:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... gress.html

with metta
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:04 am

Strive wrote:I ask because I heard some people describe that they reached the stages of supramundane Jhana but I don't think they even knew what jhana was. Or they where just mistaken or something. :quote:

Unfortunately, this is all too common.
Another danger is that, apparently, some of the jhanas can be very seductive, and some teachers will warn you of them as it is very easy to get 'stuck' there, thinking it is the goal. For this reason, some sub-traditions do not encourage practitioners to go beyond first or second jhana (initially).
I also second Tilt's advice.
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
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e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby Strive » Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:39 am

Awesome, thanks for all the replies and info,

I have no one at home or friends who I can speak and practice the dhamma with so I'm learning so much from this site. I totally agree with you guys and Ben you bring up another good point because I heard that it can be an ego trip with pride if you get to a high attainment when your not ready. Just like you said, I think even one of Buddha's teacher thought that the jhana was the final goal and that was why he left him.

:anjali:
"Faith is here a man's best treasure;
Dhamma practised well brings happiness;
Truth is really the sweetest of tastes;
One living by wisdom they say lives best."--Bhikkhu Bodhi's Samyutta Nikaya, Sagathavagga verse 853

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Jan 15, 2011 7:51 am

There's no jhana
for one with no discernment,
no
discernment
for one with no jhana.
But one with both jhana
&
discernment:
he's on the verge
of Unbinding
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#dhp-372

The Buddha often praised jhana. There are some pitfalls, but which type of meditation practice doesn't? However there is much to be gained. As the verses above say, keeping in mind the impermanent nature of the jhanas themselves can be a good way not to get attached to them, but to nevertheless utilize their samadhi properties for progress in vipassana.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby nathan » Sat Jan 15, 2011 1:52 pm

I don't post much anymore, mostly because I have lost interest in debating points of view and it is hard to avoid this if you offer any. This and I am a long winded and not infrequently annoying old fart. But I thought I could offer a few relevant insights here that have arisen throughout the years of practice.

Jhana can be problematic for meditators, particularly due to the ways that many people go about practicing these days. Often people only have a half hour or hour or so per day or occasional longer retreat times when they can practice. Naturally, despite the many common warnings and disclaimers, when blissful or very pleasant episodes or experiences arise these can tend to become objects of repeated reflection for some time afterward and as often this can have the result that returning to those same kinds or similar kinds of experiences is all the more difficult.

In the case of jhana the discourses and related commentaries offer very clear criteria for determining whether or not one has or has not actually entered one or another jhana. A careful study of the related literature, relevant discourses, commentaries and more recent texts is a helpful, informative, beneficial and frequently invaluable preliminary study. It's important to remember that the basic preliminary meditative criteria for jhana practice is practicing towards developing mental qualities supportive of the absence of the hindrances and so the subject of the hindrances is also an important study as an absence of the hindrances is the first practical preliminary for progress in vipassana or insight practice as well.

In preparation for both practices the preparatory work is centered in recognizing or discerning the differences in mental qualities, overcoming and abandoning unwholesome and harmful mental qualities and cultivating and developing appropriate mental qualities. It is best to continue on with this foundational work for as long as necessary as this foundation of overcoming the hindrances is going to serve as the platform for everything that follows and one will need to return to this focus again and again on any and every occasion that calls for doing so in the future course of meditative practice.

The jhanas eventually have occasions to occur for most of those long term and/or energetic and committed practitioners who have put in the necessary preparatory time and effort. The jhanas generally live up to the descriptions given in the texts even if these do not appear quite as one may have imagined them to be when one had no such experience. One will note that the mental qualities that are described in the discourses as necessary components of these states are present and that these are more or less all that is presenting to consciousness at these times. One will also note that development of jhana is progressively subtle and progressively accessible and serves as the natural compliment to vipassana practices. Most commonly jhana arises spontaneously and unexpectedly for people in the course of vipassana practice unless someone has chosen to make tranquility practice their primary aim and is willing to devote considerably more time and effort to developing the related mental qualities. I recommend focusing on the removal of the hindrances and then turning to practicing satipatthana or vipassana, allowing the jhanas to arise more naturally in the course of these practices when the mental qualities arising at opportune moments are suitable.

The jhanas, when briefly encountered, can become problematic at times for meditators who do not have the time, energy or motivation for many hours of daily meditation for years on end. For those who meditate for short periods of time and/or inconsistently even pleasant, peaceful and blissful mental qualities and like experiences that fall short of jhana can be problematic. Among the reasons for these difficulties can be a general lack of experience with mental qualities, less experience with overcoming the hindrances, less familiarity with long periods of uneventful meditation practice, less skillfulness with the practices and a lack of understanding of how much commitment and effort is really generally necessary for most people to make slow but steady long term progress with meditative practices.

The common result of a relative shortfall of experience is that when very pleasant kinds of mental qualities and even more so if and when jhana arises these moments can be difficult to prolong or give rise to again because due to subsequent excitement, agitation, anxiety and so on mental qualities opposed to the recurrence of the appropriate qualities inhibits the necessary calm that naturally serves as the basis for the rearising and continued development of pleasant, blissful, one pointed and other jhana supportive mental qualities. This is how pleasant mental qualities and experiences of jhana can become obstacles for further progress for meditators. Due to such fixations, anxieties and agitations and so on about revisiting various pleasant qualities the meditator may loose sight of the necessary preliminary goals of overcoming the hindrances, calming the mind and nurturing wholesome and beneficial mental qualities.

Supermundane jhana, although perhaps somewhat of an unnecessary classification or label, is, imho, most likely a suitable description for what experience of jhana can be more like after one has completed the full course of vipassana to the extent that progressive insight have given rise to realization and understanding and one has become a 'stream enterer' and so on. When one has become sufficiently familiar with the five aggregates, the three characteristics, the vipassana nanas and dependent origination that one can observe the overcoming of at least the first three fetters then one is also in a position to examine the mental qualities of jhana with a similar absence of recursive thought, misconception and with the more consistent presence of discernment.

The long term result of quite extensive exposure to jhana and the application of continued discernment is that jhana is not seen as the sort of delightful and attractive sort of experience that it was when one first became acquainted with these same mental qualities. With longer term familiarity and the clarity that insight, discernment, realization and understanding bring to bear on jhana, jhana is simply more dukkha, composed of the same dependently originating conditionality as any and all other cognizable forms, sensations, feelings, thoughts and mental qualities. True, jhana is clearly valuable as a skillful means for burning up the hindrances, establishing calm and equanimity for satipatthana and vipassana and for developing the path to nibbana but jhana for the sake of jhana, even 'so called' supramundane jhana is not the kind of trap it is for those skilled in jhana and vipassana that it can be for meditators with far less extensive and long term experience. Supramundane jhana is supportive of very refined satipatthana, vipassana and other practices, for examination of the asavas and development of the higher paths.

If supramundane jhana or even mundane jhana is ones objective then the best course of action is to undertake the related studies, practice towards overcoming the hindrances and committing to long term vipassana. Jhana and with stream entry supramundane jhana will be the result of undertaking this work with whatever time, effort and commitment proves necessary.

:anjali:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby Strive » Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:48 am

Thanks for the reply friend,

That is some good info and I agree with you especially on practicing for removal of atleast the some of the hindrances first, mainly I think being accomplished in the 5 precepts. I'm mainly interested in jhana because I heard that it helps suppress the hindrances and leads to the destruction of the taints. Plus, from what I read in the Maggasamyutta is that from the the first jhana up to the fourth jhana (mundane jhana) it is right concentration, so I'm also trying to practice that towards the noble eightfold path. I don't really care for a pleasant abiding just yet, I do care for the complete destruction of suffering though.
:anjali:
"Faith is here a man's best treasure;
Dhamma practised well brings happiness;
Truth is really the sweetest of tastes;
One living by wisdom they say lives best."--Bhikkhu Bodhi's Samyutta Nikaya, Sagathavagga verse 853

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby Reductor » Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:44 pm

Strive wrote:I'm mainly interested in jhana because I heard that it helps suppress the hindrances and leads to the destruction of the taints.


I've found it very helpful to think the opposite: suppression of the hindrances support jhana, and jhana supports the destruction of the taints.

So when you meditate focus on establishing mindfulness in your breath, posture, etc. Then, when the mind seems distracted into a hindrance, that is the time to contemplate in such a way that the hindrance passes away. Once done you then return your attention to your object.

After enough practice you'll find that mindfulness comes much easier and you are more easily able to dispel the hindrances. When this is the case you will find that directing your mind into jhana is not so hard. But, in the beginning, cultivate patience and contentment with sitting mindfully. If you can do that your more than half way there.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby IanAnd » Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:22 pm

thereductor wrote:I've found it very helpful to think the opposite: suppression of the hindrances support jhana, and jhana supports the destruction of the taints.

So when you meditate focus on establishing mindfulness in your breath, posture, etc. Then, when the mind seems distracted into a hindrance, that is the time to contemplate in such a way that the hindrance passes away. Once done you then return your attention to your object.

After enough practice you'll find that mindfulness comes much easier and you are more easily able to dispel the hindrances. When this is the case you will find that directing your mind into jhana is not so hard. But, in the beginning, cultivate patience and contentment with sitting mindfully. If you can do that your more than half way there.

Good overall advice, thereductor. :thumbsup:

Well worth paying attention to and cultivating.

Also, Nathan's post has many good insights (if you can wade through his verboseness ;) )
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby Reductor » Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:37 pm

IanAnd wrote:Good overall advice, thereductor. :thumbsup:

:anjali:
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby Strive » Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:31 pm

Thanks for the advice thereductor, I will keep that in mind.
:anjali:
"Faith is here a man's best treasure;
Dhamma practised well brings happiness;
Truth is really the sweetest of tastes;
One living by wisdom they say lives best."--Bhikkhu Bodhi's Samyutta Nikaya, Sagathavagga verse 853

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Re: How hard is it to attain supramundane Jhana?

Postby villkorkarma » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:46 pm

What is this? : . Supramundane jhana is supportive of very refined satipatthana, vipassana and other practices, for examination of the asavas and development of the higher paths.
vipassana i know but what is satipatthana?
dont hurt anyone in any sort of way


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