Viscid wrote:I'd like to hear people's personal experiences during meditation.
I'm really shocked by the overall response in this thread. Otherwise Dhammically gabby, social folk are clamming right up about their meditative experiences. I figured more people would share at least enough to validate scriptural accounts of meditative attainments. Granted, sharing personal stuff online is not for everyone, but that doesn't seem to be the biggest issue.
To hear someone you trust give big ups to teachers, whose interpretation of sutta instruction they've found to be correct through personal experience, is a valuable faith builder. Even pointing out possible errors that may have crept in over the millennia (though losing the texts as they are seems unwise), if it leads to proper practice...surely this is what a sangha is for, to help each other live the Eightfold Path which explicitly includes 4 JHANAS in the Theravada tradition. Correct practice trumps tradition, and there aren't many Theravada teachers in my neighborhood.
I'm not embarrassed to say, and see no harm in saying, that I have no mastery over first Jhana. If none of the other 2000 members of this group have mastered the first Jhana either, I'd want to know what's up with that, and see if it can't be remedied. If Buddha said that 4th Jhana should be attained using 1st tetrad anapanasati BEFORE EVEN BEGINNING TO WORK THE OTHER TETRADS, then all the people who tell me they have experienced the 'tranquilization of citta-sankhaara' without any jhana, with only 5 minutes of distracted daydreaming...WTF are they really doing? Which texts and commentaries can be trusted?
Bhante Gunaratana: "After attaining the first jhana a few times the meditator is not advised to set out immediately striving for the second jhana. This would be a foolish and profitless spiritual ambition. Before he is prepared to make the second jhana the goal of his endeavor he must first bring the first jhana to perfection. If he is too eager to reach the second jhana before he has perfected the first, he is likely to fail to gain the second and find himself unable to regain the first. The Buddha compares such a meditator to a foolish cow who, while still unfamiliar with her own pasture, sets out for new pastures and gets lost in the mountains: she fails to find food or drink and is unable to find her way home."
PTS: A iv 418
Gavi Sutta: The Cow
translated from the Pali by
"...there are cases where a monk — foolish, inexperienced, unfamiliar with his pasture, unskilled in being quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, and entering & remaining in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation — doesn't stick with that theme, doesn't develop it, pursue it, or establish himself firmly in it. The thought occurs to him, 'What if I, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, were to enter & remain in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance.' He is not able... to enter & remain in the second jhana... The thought occurs to him, 'What if I... were to enter & remain in the first jhana... He is not able... to enter & remain in the first jhana. This is called a monk who has slipped & fallen from both sides, like the mountain cow, foolish, inexperienced, unfamiliar with her pasture, unskilled in roaming on rugged mountains."
Anyone have advice on developing the 5 indriya and the Jhana factors after the 5 nivarana are suppressed to the max using anapanasati?
Anyone experience difficulty in 'guarding the sign' for uninterrupted months before jhana entry, or should it not take that long?
Which is to be guarded? Parikamma-, uggaha- or patibhaga-nimitta?
Is access concentration necessarily lost while guarding the sign?
I did [either metta, karuna, or metta-karuna] relatively correctly once, as opposed to the 'fake it till you make it' metta that I manage every other time. [Success?] was preceded by maybe 20 minutes of anapanasati, then vertigo perception of slow rotation around the core. Eyes stayed closed--I knew it wasn't really happening and that I probably wouldn't puke. I mention this because I've heard people advised to open their eyes if they don't like the intense spinny feeling, which was distracting the first few times. Another 20 minutes, as vertigo ended, the wobbly mettaa object (human, male, alive, family) clicked into frame over a white background (I'd guess this was now the mettaa-parikamma- or uggaha-nimitta?). Full, bursty-forth feeling with a right sense of completion and job well done. I was in a Sikh temple so I walked away. A powerful and normally aggressive dog down the street felt or saw something and initiated super submissive contact that shocked its owner. The story of Buddha calming the raging elephant doesn't sound so far-fetched now. It seems [metta? or karuna?] can be [held] long after visualizations have ended--at least until the panca-nivarana resurge, so make sure you're far from man-eating beasts when that happens.
This online account is from a Goenka Vipassana student: "On the fourth day, when we asked for Vipassana from Lord Buddha, I found every cell of my body screaming out the plea. Immediately, my body became hot. My bones felt as if somebody was breaking them with 10 hammers. I was in immense pain, shaking violently. But over time I realized that if I remained equanimous, I could feel the pain arise and subside. That's when I understood that the mind was bringing up the pains. On my return, I have found myself to be far stronger, with more individuality and clarity."
My most painful sit quickly turned into what I assume was one of the higher, but still pre-jhana, piti-sukha combos, which let me sit for hours longer until lights-out (retreat--had to move). If there's a chance the pain might not kill you, stay put.
I've had shakes, too. Anapana, discomfort, big twitches, decision to stay sitting despite them, then a good hour of violent full-body-arm-leg shaking and deep erratic sobs. Not sure I could have stopped it if I'd wanted to, even after a walk. Haven't felt better in years.
Just found this useful looking yahoo jhana support grouphttp://groups.yahoo.com/group/Jhanas/message/6695
link goes to a piece on 'Nikaya and Commentarial Traditions in Jhana/ Different Nimittas'
[just explored the link further, kinda sad ending, don't bother.]