'Ajahn Brahmavamso is a Theravadan Buddhist monk who lives in Western Australia. He studied extensively with Ajahn Chah in Thailand as well as in other places before settling in Australia. His definition of exactly what constituted a Jhana seems close to the depths indicated in the Visuddhimagga, but he says he teaches from the suttas and from his experience. His essays The Basic Method of Meditation and Travelogue to the four Jhanas outline his Jhana teaching.
(1. http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/articles/i ... ation.html
The primary access method he teaches is Anapanasati, which he refers to as "experiencing the 'beautiful breath'." His main emphasis is about the attitude of not getting the 'doer' or 'craving' or 'will' involved. He emphasizes finding happiness and joy in stillness. His main teachings are now to 'make peace, be kind & be gentle' which are the right intentions of the Noble Eightfold Path. So no matter what method or object of meditation one uses, one has to make sure to have the 'right intentions' of it. His dharma talks here explain this in more detail.
I like Ajahn Brahm's tapes.. well, of the few I listened to (among those 334 available now, ) , not counting videos or articles. I recall humorous stories , nicely connected with his Dhamma talks, making it easier to pay attention than to many other speakers.
A few passages from above links:
'In order to know where your effort should be directed, you must have a clear understanding of the goal of meditation. The goal of this meditation is the beautiful silence, stillness and clarity of mind. If you can understand that goal then the place to apply your effort, the means to achieve the goal becomes very clear'.
'The effort is directed to letting go, to developing a mind that inclines to abandoning. One of the many simple but profound statements of the Lord Buddha is that "a meditator whose mind inclines to abandoning, easily achieves Samadhi". Such a meditator gains these states of inner bliss almost automatically.'
(Obviously those lucky ones with fewer attachments respectively identifications. We all know how tricky the mind operates to avoid non-activity , having always ' highly interesting ' comments available and if only about the issue of stillness.
S.N. XII,61 -translation .by Thanissaro Bhikkhu - brings it to the point:
"It would be better for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person to hold to the body composed of the four great elements, rather than the mind, as the self. Why is that? Because this body composed of the four great elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more. But what's called 'mind,' 'intellect,' or 'consciousness' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another. Just as a monkey, swinging through a forest wilderness, grabs a branch. Letting go of it, it grabs another branch. Letting go of that, it grabs another one. Letting go of that, it grabs another one. In the same way, what's called 'mind,' 'intellect,' or 'consciousness' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another. The instructed disciple of the noble ones, [however,] attends carefully & appropriately right there at the dependent co-arising: "'When this is, that is."'From the arising of this comes the arising of that." unquote extract
The nature of our day-by-day-mind is that of a monkey.. and very stubborn of a change.
Interesting is here the reference to the Law of Dependent Origination .
Ajahn Buddhadasa ,Suan Moke, is one of the few I keep in mind who emphasized the contemplation.
There are quite a number of people who can not imagine that inner silence is possible , it seems they assume that not-thinking involves the thought: not to think . Well , Abhidhamma offers grand possibilities in order to keep busy. )
'You may go through the initial stages quickly if you wish, but be very careful if you so do. Sometimes, when you pass through the initial steps too quickly, you find the preparatory work has not been completed. It is like trying to build a town house on a very weak and rushed foundation. The structure goes up very quickly, but it comes down very quickly as well! So you are wise to spend a lot of time on the foundations, and on the `first storeys' as well, making the groundwork well done, strong and firm. Then when you proceed to the higher storey, the bliss states of meditation, they too are stable and firm.'
(I assume from Jhana 1 to Jhana 2 , volition in form of thought activity must have come to rest in order to inhabit the second storey.)
'The second stage of meditation in my scheme of things is where you have full continuous awareness of the breath. So the mind is not distracted at all, every moment it has the breath in mind and that state has been stabilised with continual attention until the breath is continually in mind, no distraction for many minutes on end. That's the second stage in this meditation. It coincides with the third stage in the Buddha's Anapanasati Sutta, where the meditator experiences whole body of breath, where the body here is just a word for the accumulation of all the parts of an inbreath, all the parts of an outbreath and the sequential awareness of these physical feelings. The next stage, the third stage in my scheme, the fourth stage in the Buddha's Anapanasati Sutta, is where, having attained that second stage and not letting it go, not letting go of the awareness of the breath one moment, one calms that object down, calms the object of the breath down.'
( when comparing with the usual definitions of the Jhanas , e.g. DN 2, in particular the similes the approach of Anapanasati seems to be quite different.)
'If you calm the physical feeling of breath down, the mental feeling of breath starts to arise -- the samadhi nimitta -- usually a light which appears in the mind. However, it can sometimes just appear to be a physical feeling. It can be a deep peacefulness; it can even be like a blackness. The actual description of it is very wide simply because the description is that which everyone adds on to a core experience, which is a mental experience. When it starts to arise you just haven't got the words to describe it. So what we add to it is usually how we understand it to ourselves. Darkness, peacefulness, profound stillness, emptiness, a beautiful light or whatever. Don't particularly worry about what type of nimitta it actually is.'
( mental feeling of breath starts to arise ..? hm ..more likely what mental formations 'translate' from the feeling -.I.M.H.O.
....about nimitta : perhaps best 'whatever' ?
''In fact the first jhana is quite wide. However, if it's a first jhana experience it has to have the five main features, the five main jhana factors. The second jhana is much narrower, much easier to find out whether this is where you've been. It's the same with the third and the fourth jhana, they get narrower still. The width of description for this experience, which you may offer, narrows down as you attain more profound depths of letting go.
With the first jhana, the Buddha gave it five factors. The main factors are the two which is piti-sukka. This is bliss. Sometimes, if you look in books about the meaning of these terms, they will try and split them into separate factors. They are separate things, but in the first couple of jhanas piti and sukka are so closely intertwined that you will not be able to distinguish one from the other and it's more helpful not to try, but to look at these two factors as just 'bliss' That's the most accurate description which most people can recognise: "This is bliss." The Buddha called it vivekaja piti-sukka, that particular type of bliss which is born from detachment, born from aloofness, born from seclusion. Viveka is the word for 'seclusion', 'aloofness', 'separateness' and it means 'separated from the world of the five senses'
'There are two other factors which confuse people again and again. They are the two terms 'vitakka' and 'vicira' -- which Bikkhu Bodhi in his Majima Nikaya translates as 'initial' and 'sustained' application of thought or 'initial' and 'applied' thought. However, it should be known and recognised, that thinking, as you normally perceive it, is not present in these jhanas at all. That which we call thought has completely subsided. What these two terms refer to is a last vestige of the movement of the mind which, if it was continued, would give rise to thinking. It is almost what you might call sub-verbal thought. It is a movement of the mind towards a meditation object. That's called vitakka. However it has to appear on a sub-verbal level, just a movement, just an intention, without the mind breaking into words and labels.'
( I disagree despite my very limited Jhana experience : vitakka appears to me as the arising of thought , thought conception ,i.e. bringing up a new topic which vicara follows up , adding associations in a way of discursive thinking , different to the a.m. monkey , missing direction in jumping)
to be continued