anybody? is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

anybody? is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby johnny » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:18 am

i've always wondered this. i did zen meditation for seven years with zero results other than peace of mind and greater mental control, still good results, but i digress. i learned theravada jhana meditation four years ago and have in the past year learned how to (shakily) enter the first jhana. is it possible too do so with eyes open or is that the point of the zen eyes open method? too keep you out of jhana? all zen literature i've read does not recommend or teach jhana, nor have i ever met a zen teacher or monk/nun who teaches it, so that's my guess: eyes open = no jhana. does anyone know?

EDIT: this is in no way a rip on zen. zen is awesome. i think i was trying too practice too much from books and didn't have enough instruction from actual teachers.
Last edited by johnny on Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby marc108 » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:43 am

i would imagine it would make meditation in general, let alone jhana, pretty difficult... but i think it would be possible, especially with some experience. try it.
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Re: is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby johnny » Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:08 pm

marc108 wrote:i would imagine it would make meditation in general, let alone jhana, pretty difficult... but i think it would be possible, especially with some experience. try it.



i feel the same way. when doing zen meditation in the beginning i kept my eyes shut and felt pretty good. then a teacher told me too keep them open and i got to points where my mind was shut off, totally conscious but almost zero thoughts, but instead of the wonderful rising feeling toward jhana i get when practicing theravada meditation, i just felt nothing at all. if anything, kind of down. i didn't know this was not right as i only have talked too a teacher a few times, and i practiced like that for years! feeling just nothing, and then i learned how too keep that feeling during the day in varying degrees, by using mindfulness, and so i started just feeling this blah nothing feeling a lot. clearly i was doing the whole Zen thing wrong! hence: lack of teacher.

anyway, because of that experience, i can't imagine eyes open meditation leading anywhere, clearly this is not the general opinion though as the majority of zen schools keep them open! so what are we missing here?
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby Son » Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:52 am

johnny wrote:
marc108 wrote:i would imagine it would make meditation in general, let alone jhana, pretty difficult... but i think it would be possible, especially with some experience. try it.



i feel the same way. when doing zen meditation in the beginning i kept my eyes shut and felt pretty good. then a teacher told me too keep them open and i got to points where my mind was shut off, totally conscious but almost zero thoughts, but instead of the wonderful rising feeling toward jhana i get when practicing theravada meditation, i just felt nothing at all. if anything, kind of down.


when you start to feel that, it means you should switch to Insight Meditation. Seems strange, yes, but you'll be surprised at how amazingly clear and deducible every thought you analyze is. For me, that is the purpose of opening my eyes during meditation. Sometimes, during tranquility meditation, I decide that my mind is leaning more towards insight-seeking at that moment--I figure, it's best to go with that feeling!--so I slowly open my eyes to a relaxed level, and immediately insight meditation takes hold. Maybe you should try that out huh? Really great experience for me.
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Re: anybody? is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby James the Giant » Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:11 am

I used to do a lot of walking meditation, (with eyes open of course) and got strong bliss for hours on end. It wasn't jhana but it was DAMN nice.
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Re: is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:50 am

Son wrote:--so I slowly open my eyes to a relaxed level, and immediately insight meditation takes hold.


Could you say a bit more about this - what actually happens?
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Re: is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby Son » Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:53 am

porpoise wrote:
Son wrote:--so I slowly open my eyes to a relaxed level, and immediately insight meditation takes hold.


Could you say a bit more about this - what actually happens?


Hm. I would love to, I'm just not sure what you want to know? A question perhaps to get me started? I'm sorry, I can be very simple minded. :?
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Re: is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:19 pm

Son wrote:
porpoise wrote:
Son wrote:--so I slowly open my eyes to a relaxed level, and immediately insight meditation takes hold.


Could you say a bit more about this - what actually happens?


Hm. I would love to, I'm just not sure what you want to know? A question perhaps to get me started? I'm sorry, I can be very simple minded. :?


Well, what does "insight meditation" mean to you? There seem to be quite a variety of approaches.
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Re: anybody? is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby johnny » Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:47 pm

James the Giant wrote:I used to do a lot of walking meditation, (with eyes open of course) and got strong bliss for hours on end. It wasn't jhana but it was DAMN nice.


sweet! thanks! i've gotten some fantastic feelings from walking meditation too.

also, did the buddha ever specifically say that one cannot enter the first jhana while walking?
Last edited by johnny on Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby johnny » Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:49 pm

Son wrote:
johnny wrote:
marc108 wrote:i would imagine it would make meditation in general, let alone jhana, pretty difficult... but i think it would be possible, especially with some experience. try it.



i feel the same way. when doing zen meditation in the beginning i kept my eyes shut and felt pretty good. then a teacher told me too keep them open and i got to points where my mind was shut off, totally conscious but almost zero thoughts, but instead of the wonderful rising feeling toward jhana i get when practicing theravada meditation, i just felt nothing at all. if anything, kind of down.


when you start to feel that, it means you should switch to Insight Meditation. Seems strange, yes, but you'll be surprised at how amazingly clear and deducible every thought you analyze is. For me, that is the purpose of opening my eyes during meditation. Sometimes, during tranquility meditation, I decide that my mind is leaning more towards insight-seeking at that moment--I figure, it's best to go with that feeling!--so I slowly open my eyes to a relaxed level, and immediately insight meditation takes hold. Maybe you should try that out huh? Really great experience for me.


you are a wise cuttle fish! could you explain this process for me? sometimes "analyze" means to simply note and release, and sometimes it means too mentally dissect a thought. or some other meaning... please expand because i think you're onto something.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby Son » Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:56 pm

porpoise wrote:
Son wrote:--so I slowly open my eyes to a relaxed level, and immediately insight meditation takes hold.


Could you say a bit more about this - what actually happens?
Well, what does "insight meditation" mean to you? There seem to be quite a variety of approaches.




johnny wrote:
Son wrote:
johnny wrote:
i feel the same way. when doing zen meditation in the beginning i kept my eyes shut and felt pretty good. then a teacher told me too keep them open and i got to points where my mind was shut off, totally conscious but almost zero thoughts, but instead of the wonderful rising feeling toward jhana i get when practicing theravada meditation, i just felt nothing at all. if anything, kind of down.


when you start to feel that, it means you should switch to Insight Meditation. Seems strange, yes, but you'll be surprised at how amazingly clear and deducible every thought you analyze is. For me, that is the purpose of opening my eyes during meditation. Sometimes, during tranquility meditation, I decide that my mind is leaning more towards insight-seeking at that moment--I figure, it's best to go with that feeling!--so I slowly open my eyes to a relaxed level, and immediately insight meditation takes hold. Maybe you should try that out huh? Really great experience for me.


you are a wise cuttle fish! could you explain this process for me? sometimes "analyze" means to simply note and release, and sometimes it means too mentally dissect a thought. or some other meaning... please expand because i think you're onto something.


For me, what happens is I "note and release" thoughts as they arise, and then also correspondingly I dissect the nature of the arising and or passing. So the trivial arising thoughts are not analyzed. The reality of the moment is seen by analyzing dharma. This analysis illuminates what's really going on in my mind--because I'm focused in a meditative state--here and now. That way I contemplate the aggregates, dependent origination, usually the elements, or simply emptiness, unsatisfactoriness, and impermanence. The difference is gaining insight as opposed to gaining tranquility. Tranquility gained by calming, or insight gained by analysis (dissection of thought).

What occurs is, while focusing on the breath or something, at a certain degree of concentration the arising and passing away of thoughts seems more conducive for analysis, so my focus turns on the other hand toward analysis. As I focus on arising thought, noting and releasing it that is, a corresponding analysis ensues or is brought about. At this point I really feel like having my eyes open relaxed, and as soon as I do that, it becomes easier to focus with analysis concentration. This helps insight to emerge, and hence through this meditation I gain insight. With each increasing degree of concentration, more insight emerges. With clearer focus, more insight is gained. This is why I call it vipassana. For me, it naturally ensues if I am open to it during samatha. As it is known, samatha and vipassana are of course not mutually exclusive; they are interdependent upon deep concentration. (meditation, morality, wisdom) In short, it seems to me that the urge to open the eyes is a natural tendency to engage in vipassan. That may sound strange, but apparently its normal.

Was that helpful to you both?
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Re: is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby johnny » Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:46 am

Son wrote:


For me, what happens is I "note and release" thoughts as they arise, and then also correspondingly I dissect the nature of the arising and or passing. So the trivial arising thoughts are not analyzed. The reality of the moment is seen by analyzing dharma. This analysis illuminates what's really going on in my mind--because I'm focused in a meditative state--here and now. That way I contemplate the aggregates, dependent origination, usually the elements, or simply emptiness, unsatisfactoriness, and impermanence. The difference is gaining insight as opposed to gaining tranquility. Tranquility gained by calming, or insight gained by analysis (dissection of thought).

What occurs is, while focusing on the breath or something, at a certain degree of concentration the arising and passing away of thoughts seems more conducive for analysis, so my focus turns on the other hand toward analysis. As I focus on arising thought, noting and releasing it that is, a corresponding analysis ensues or is brought about. At this point I really feel like having my eyes open relaxed, and as soon as I do that, it becomes easier to focus with analysis concentration. This helps insight to emerge, and hence through this meditation I gain insight. With each increasing degree of concentration, more insight emerges. With clearer focus, more insight is gained. This is why I call it vipassana. For me, it naturally ensues if I am open to it during samatha. As it is known, samatha and vipassana are of course not mutually exclusive; they are interdependent upon deep concentration. (meditation, morality, wisdom) In short, it seems to me that the urge to open the eyes is a natural tendency to engage in vipassan. That may sound strange, but apparently its normal.

Was that helpful to you both?



yeah i think i get it. thanks.the only thing i don't get is when analyzing, how much time is spent per thought? if one takes off and thinks and thinks on one mental object he will end up in simply normal thought, not meditative at all, right?
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby Son » Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:38 am

johnny wrote:
Son wrote:


For me, what happens is I "note and release" thoughts as they arise, and then also correspondingly I dissect the nature of the arising and or passing. So the trivial arising thoughts are not analyzed. The reality of the moment is seen by analyzing dharma. This analysis illuminates what's really going on in my mind--because I'm focused in a meditative state--here and now. That way I contemplate the aggregates, dependent origination, usually the elements, or simply emptiness, unsatisfactoriness, and impermanence. The difference is gaining insight as opposed to gaining tranquility. Tranquility gained by calming, or insight gained by analysis (dissection of thought).

What occurs is, while focusing on the breath or something, at a certain degree of concentration the arising and passing away of thoughts seems more conducive for analysis, so my focus turns on the other hand toward analysis. As I focus on arising thought, noting and releasing it that is, a corresponding analysis ensues or is brought about. At this point I really feel like having my eyes open relaxed, and as soon as I do that, it becomes easier to focus with analysis concentration. This helps insight to emerge, and hence through this meditation I gain insight. With each increasing degree of concentration, more insight emerges. With clearer focus, more insight is gained. This is why I call it vipassana. For me, it naturally ensues if I am open to it during samatha. As it is known, samatha and vipassana are of course not mutually exclusive; they are interdependent upon deep concentration. (meditation, morality, wisdom) In short, it seems to me that the urge to open the eyes is a natural tendency to engage in vipassan. That may sound strange, but apparently its normal.

Was that helpful to you both?



yeah i think i get it. thanks.the only thing i don't get is when analyzing, how much time is spent per thought? if one takes off and thinks and thinks on one mental object he will end up in simply normal thought, not meditative at all, right?


No. If you're concentrated, in meditation, noting and releasing thoughts, you can focus on deep analysis. If you analyze unsatisfactoriness in your own mind for 20 minutes, this shouldn't lead to "normal thought." Stay focused, build concentration. If you cling to thoughts, that leads to distraction and normal thought, ergo distracting your focus.
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Re: is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby johnny » Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:28 am

Son wrote:
johnny wrote:
Son wrote:


For me, what happens is I "note and release" thoughts as they arise, and then also correspondingly I dissect the nature of the arising and or passing. So the trivial arising thoughts are not analyzed. The reality of the moment is seen by analyzing dharma. This analysis illuminates what's really going on in my mind--because I'm focused in a meditative state--here and now. That way I contemplate the aggregates, dependent origination, usually the elements, or simply emptiness, unsatisfactoriness, and impermanence. The difference is gaining insight as opposed to gaining tranquility. Tranquility gained by calming, or insight gained by analysis (dissection of thought).

What occurs is, while focusing on the breath or something, at a certain degree of concentration the arising and passing away of thoughts seems more conducive for analysis, so my focus turns on the other hand toward analysis. As I focus on arising thought, noting and releasing it that is, a corresponding analysis ensues or is brought about. At this point I really feel like having my eyes open relaxed, and as soon as I do that, it becomes easier to focus with analysis concentration. This helps insight to emerge, and hence through this meditation I gain insight. With each increasing degree of concentration, more insight emerges. With clearer focus, more insight is gained. This is why I call it vipassana. For me, it naturally ensues if I am open to it during samatha. As it is known, samatha and vipassana are of course not mutually exclusive; they are interdependent upon deep concentration. (meditation, morality, wisdom) In short, it seems to me that the urge to open the eyes is a natural tendency to engage in vipassan. That may sound strange, but apparently its normal.

Was that helpful to you both?



yeah i think i get it. thanks.the only thing i don't get is when analyzing, how much time is spent per thought? if one takes off and thinks and thinks on one mental object he will end up in simply normal thought, not meditative at all, right?


No. If you're concentrated, in meditation, noting and releasing thoughts, you can focus on deep analysis. If you analyze unsatisfactoriness in your own mind for 20 minutes, this shouldn't lead to "normal thought." Stay focused, build concentration. If you cling to thoughts, that leads to distraction and normal thought, ergo distracting your focus.


cool, thanks.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:24 am

Son wrote:
porpoise wrote:For me, what happens is I "note and release" thoughts as they arise, and then also correspondingly I dissect the nature of the arising and or passing. So the trivial arising thoughts are not analyzed. The reality of the moment is seen by analyzing dharma. This analysis illuminates what's really going on in my mind--because I'm focused in a meditative state--here and now. That way I contemplate the aggregates, dependent origination, usually the elements, or simply emptiness, unsatisfactoriness, and impermanence. The difference is gaining insight as opposed to gaining tranquility. Was that helpful to you both?


Yes, good explanation! I find myself noticing how much of my mental activity is basically craving and aversion, wanting and not wanting.
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Re: is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby Son » Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:41 am

porpoise wrote:
Son wrote:
porpoise wrote:For me, what happens is I "note and release" thoughts as they arise, and then also correspondingly I dissect the nature of the arising and or passing. So the trivial arising thoughts are not analyzed. The reality of the moment is seen by analyzing dharma. This analysis illuminates what's really going on in my mind--because I'm focused in a meditative state--here and now. That way I contemplate the aggregates, dependent origination, usually the elements, or simply emptiness, unsatisfactoriness, and impermanence. The difference is gaining insight as opposed to gaining tranquility. Was that helpful to you both?


Yes, good explanation! I find myself noticing how much of my mental activity is basically craving and aversion, wanting and not wanting.


Good! Yes, effectively that is vipassana.
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Re: anybody? is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby greggorious » Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:54 pm

You didn't really practice Zen if you didn't have a teacher. Zen empahsises having a teacher, more than any other school of Buddhism. Plus going to the zendo is of vital imporatance, more important than reading books, knowing about Jhana's etc. Zazen is about stripping away, not about gain. It's not about finding some blissed out state of samadhi, but seeing into your true nature, only then, can one attain enlightenment.
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah
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Re: anybody? is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby Son » Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:14 am

greggorious wrote:You didn't really practice Zen if you didn't have a teacher. Zen empahsises having a teacher, more than any other school of Buddhism. Plus going to the zendo is of vital imporatance, more important than reading books, knowing about Jhana's etc. Zazen is about stripping away, not about gain. It's not about finding some blissed out state of samadhi, but seeing into your true nature, only then, can one attain enlightenment.


in some cases, you can practice zen without a teacher, you just can't really devote yourself or progress far without a teacher. Anything derived from the Buddha's teaching at all is about seeing into your own true nature, to attain Enlightenment. Zen is method. There is both samatha and vipassana in Zen. Definitely there is. Contemplating koans and so forth, as well as clearing the mind with calmness. Jhanas aren't important but, just for information and clarification.
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Re: anybody? is it possible too enter jhana with your eyes open?

Postby johnny » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:18 am

greggorious wrote:You didn't really practice Zen if you didn't have a teacher. Zen empahsises having a teacher, more than any other school of Buddhism. Plus going to the zendo is of vital imporatance, more important than reading books, knowing about Jhana's etc. Zazen is about stripping away, not about gain. It's not about finding some blissed out state of samadhi, but seeing into your true nature, only then, can one attain enlightenment.


many would disagree with you. many of those that would disagree are masters who wrote their teachings down so people like me could read them and practice zen. most agree you should have a teacher (me included!), but i don't know anyone who would say that it doesn't even count as zen without a teacher, that's going a bit far.


EDIT: i just re-read my op. i never said i didn't have a teacher, i said i "didn't have enough instruction from actual teachers". meaning i did have some instruction, just not enough. which i added as an edit on july 18th for just this reason. your post is from july 28th, in case it seems like i edited my op too fit this discussion, because that is not the case. i find it odd that you came too the conclusion that i didn't have one, and decided it was necessary too tell me that i wasn't really practicing zen, as if it's a hip club and you just one upped me by telling me i was never really in it.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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